Frank Ntilikina will start for the first time this season as the New York Knicks take on the Boston Celtics and Kemba Walker.
Ntilikina is the only pure point guard available for the second-straight game. Eflrid Payton is still nursing a right hamstring strain while Dennis Smith Jr. takes time off following the death of a close family member.
On Wednesday against the Orlando Magic, head coach David Fizdale opted to start Wayne Ellington at shooting guard and slide Barrett to point. The rookie is more suited to play the two, but he’s shown a willingness to play point guard when necessary.
However, Fizdale is choosing to go with his French point guard for his defense in the face of Boston’s Kemba Walker according to Ian Begley of SNY.
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“I love playing with RJ,” Ntilikina told reporters on Friday. “I think we complement each other. He’s a great guy. On both sides of the court, he gives 100% which is really appreciated. RJ is a great teammate.”
Barrett and Ntilikina have the potential to make for a dynamic backcourt. While Barrett is the more gifted offensive player, Ntilikina can always handle the tougher assignment defensively.
In fact, Ntilikina has extensive experience playing against Walker. During the FIBA World Cup, the French pulled off a stunning victory over Team USA and Ntilikina completely outplayed Walker in the upset.
Expect to see someone come off the bench for Barrett or Ntilikina relatively early. Fizdale will need to stagger their minutes to make sure he always has at least one point guard on the floor.