Frank Ntilikina Faces Overbearing Pressure With Phil Jackson Gone
Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Frank Ntilikina of France is introduced by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as the number eight overall pick to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Prayers for most New York Knicks fans were answered last week when Phil Jackson and the Knicks parted ways. But the decision added pressure on the Knicks eighth overall pick, Frank Nitilikina.

There is already pressure on him regardless of Jackson being out of town. For starters, he is playing in New York, where expectations are high and failure is not accepted.

Also, he is a top 10 lottery selection. Players that are drafted there are expected to become stars. This is in addition to how the New York Knicks haven’t had a franchise point guard in quite some time. They desperately need Ntilikina to fill that role, that’s why the Knicks drafted a point guard in the first place. It has been the team‘s biggest weakness and they must have that problem addressed.

But how does Jackson’s departure add more pressure on Ntilikina? Well, he is the guy that Jackson wanted. Ntilikina was chosen by Jackson because his style of play best fits the triangle offense.

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Ntilikina is a pass-first guard and really commits himself on the defensive end. He was brought in for a system that is no longer going to be in place. This is exactly what the Knicks needed to avoid, If Phil was not in charge the day of the draft, do the Knicks even select Ntilikina?

I am not sold that they do. By passing on others for the system, it puts more pressure on Ntilikina especially since the triangle is out of town and that’s the driving force behind his selection.

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It cannot be stressed enough how deep this year’s draft class was. There were other talented point guards still on the board when the Knicks were picking. Guards such as Dennis Smith Jr and Malik Monk were other options the Knicks could have gone with. Smith Jr and Monk are guys that may be more NBA ready than Ntilikina.

They could put up gaudy numbers right away and Ntilikina looks to be more of a project right now. Especially on offense, his jump shot needs work and his ability to finish around the rim needs improvement as well.

The pressure was already on Ntilikina once he was drafted. Considering the events that followed these past couple weeks, it has now doubled, at least. But the pressure is on all players, it’s part of the business.

The reality is Ntilikina was brought in to fit a system that is gone and other talented players were passed because of it. Knicks fans, we just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope this all works out.

 NEXT: New York Knicks News Mix, 7/10/17: Tim Hardaway Jr. Wants Melo Back 


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Originally from Long Island, Matt grew up as a die heart Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers fan. Matt moved to South Carolina when he was 13, but this did not stop him from watching his favorite teams. He graduated with a Bachelor degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina Upstate. Other than a contributor for Elite Sports NY, Matt was a former writer for Skyscrapersports and currently is a writer and co-host for The Assist Podcast. He is also a sports reporter for Greer Today.