Frank Ntilikina is throwing his support behind Dennis Smith Jr. while his New York Knicks teammate battles through injury woes.
Frank Ntilikina understands the pressure of living up to expectations in a New York Knicks uniform. His first two seasons were marked by inconsistency and injuries. Dennis Smith Jr. is experiencing some of the same in his third season.
Although Ntilikina and Smith are battling for minutes at point guard, the Frenchman wants to see his teammate succeed and believes it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through.
“Dennis is a great player, good friend,’’ Ntilikina said after Saturday’s win via Marc Berman of the New York Post.
“Seeing him down with injuries, it’s tough. I’ve been in the same situation. But I know mentally he’s really strong. Everyone knows Dennis Smith Jr. from the youngest age, he’s been balling so it’s just a matter of time. We’re all here for him. I don’t think it’s a huge problem.’’
Ntilikina only played in 43 games during his sophomore season and injuries kept him out for almost the entire second half of the season.
Dennis Smith Jr. has already missed 12 games for a variety of reasons. First, the tragic and sudden loss of his stepmother took him away from the team. Upon returning, he struggled to maintain consistency and eventually fell out of the rotation. Now, Smith is dealing with a strained left oblique that has kept him out of the last two games.
Calling Smith’s 2019-20 campaign a rollercoaster season doesn’t feel right. Outside of a couple of games, there haven’t been many ups on the rollercoaster.
Moreover, trade rumors are hanging over Smith. That’s something that Ntilikina understands as well, but the only difference here is that Smith reportedly prefers to be traded.