Frank Ntilikina put together a highlight reel of assists in the New York Knicks’ thrashing of the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Portland Trail Blazers are going to have nightmares of Frank Ntilikina throwing lobs to Mitchell Robinson for quite some time. The French point guard recently lost his starting job to Elfrid Payton, but he’s starting to carve out an important niche with the New York Knicks‘ second unit.
His 10 assists against Portland on Wednesday were a season-high and even better, he finished the game without a turnover. Here’s each and every one of his assists, ranked, completely arbitrarily of course.
10. An NBA Assist
This is the definition of an “NBA assist.” Reggie Bullock only takes two dribbles, but this is borderline and no one would argue that this is a dime from Ntilikina. He does a nice job advancing the ball and making some contact on the screen.
Don’t worry, this is just the start.
9. Julius Randle Stop & Pop
Alright, this is another one that is more about the shot than the pass. Ntilikina comes dangerously close to throwing the ball to Julius Randle in the backcourt.
However, Randle is riding a ridiculous hot streak right now and Ntilikina does well to give him the ball in semi-transition. Randle takes advantage of the slow-footed Carmelo Anthony.
8. Bobby Portis From Way Downtown
Ain’t much to this one. I admit, putting this above Nos. 9 and 10 is debatable. What isn’t debatable is the fact that this is a three-pointer and the previous assists on the list were long twos. Accept the analytics. Embrace the analytics. Become the analytics.
7. Bobby Portis With Time
This would have been a much nicer play and assist if Moses Brown made any kind of closeout. Ntilikina tries to get in the way of a closeout that never really happens. Portis looks surprised by how much time he has to shoot.
6. Hot Potato
Ironically enough, as Mike Breen is complimenting the Knicks’ improved spacing, Ntilikina and Portis are bunched up together in the corner together. As if that mattered.
The Frenchman plays hot potato, whipping the quick pass to Portis for the open three in the corner. It may not be the flashiest pass, but Ntilikina’s quick decision-making is encouraging.
5. Passing Out Of The Double
When the double team comes at him, Ntilikina throws a dart to the open man. This time, CJ McCollum is caught napping and Bullock drills the deep look. The wing can be a three-point assassin and his return to the lineup gives the Knicks a much-needed floor spacer to add to the mix.
4. The First Of Many
Ntilikina lobs to Mitchell Robinson were a common sight in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. This assist is actually somewhat tame compared to the rest of the list.
3. Robinson Cocks It Back
Robinson is a force of nature when he’s playing above the rim. The second-year center actually makes solid contact on his screen, which provides enough space for Ntilikina to go downhill and invade the paint.
On its face, this is the best highlight of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean it is the best assist of the night.
2. No-Look Pass
Did the no-look pass fool any defenders? Maybe not. Does it matter if it did? Not really. Ntilikina can look robotic on the court when he’s struggling. A little flash from the Frenchman should be encouraged because he’s at his best when he plays free and loose.
His patience to wait for the re-screen is noticeable here as well. The tentative version of Ntilikina would have almost certainly deferred to Randle after the first screen attempt yielded nothing.
1. Pick-And-Roll Doppelganger
If you squint hard enough at this play, it kind of looks like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid running the pick-and-roll. Sure, Ntilikina needs to grow a few more inches and Robinson needs to gain a few more pounds to really be doppelgangers.
This is one of the better plays the Knicks have run all season. Ntilikina and Robinson are the focus of the highlight, but having three legitimate three-point threats on the floor (Portis, Bullock, Marcus Morris Sr.) makes the play happen.
The chemistry between Ntilikina and Robinson is obvious and the point guard is becoming adept at throwing the lobs in the perfect spot for his big man. Then again, there really isn’t a bad spot to pass the ball when Robinson is on the other hand. Just make sure it’s in the same ZIP code and he’ll figure out a way to catch it.
The cherry on top of one of Ntilikina’s best performances as a Knick. He’s been trying for a ferocious slam like this dating back to the exhibition games he played with Team France before the FIBA World Cup even started. This one was worth the wait.