Frank Ntilikina will likely ride the pine on Friday as the New York Knicks’ point guard competition enters its next stage.
New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale is still trying to figure out who will start at point guard on opening night. Frank Ntilikina made his case on Wednesday night with his stifling defense on Trae Young in the fourth quarter.
Despite his noticeable impact on the defensive end, Fizdale will likely keep Ntilkina glued to the bench in the team’s final preseason game on Friday, per Ian Begley of SNY. The Knicks will take on Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday at Madison Square Garden.
Barring a standout performance from Payton or Smith, Ntilikina has much of a chance to win the job as anyone. The French point guard is the best defender of the bunch by far and he’s shown as much during preseason.
Payton has done little to impress in the preseason and although he has the most NBA experience, Fizdale preaches “keep what you kill.”
Smith has been hampered by nagging injuries and he was clearly rusty on Wednesday. Perhaps a second game will allow him to shake off the cobwebs and win the job outright.
Despite Ntilikina’s lackluster offense in the preseason, he could make for a dangerous backcourt with RJ Barrett. The rookie is comfortable with the ball in his hands and he can shoulder some of the load while Ntilikina’s offensive game develops.
Conversely, Ntilikina can handle the toughest perimeter assignment game in and game out, allowing Barrett time to adjust to the challenge of defending in the NBA.
The audition for point guard still appears to be wide open. Friday could be a make-or-break moment for someone.