The Knicks may have a big crush on international guard Frank Ntilikina, but their date will have to be indefinitely postponed. Already proving he knows how to win, the 18-year old is in the midst of leading his Strabourg club into the French League Final. Such a commitment to likely to prevent him from working out for NBA teams prior to the draft, according to the New York Post.
But that doesn't mean the curiosity still isn't there. There's so much to like and even more to be intrigued over when it comes to Ntilikina. As the draft's youngest prospect, he has great upside. His versatile skill set would also provide the Knicks with many things they desperately need, especially coming from the point guard position. The fact that unaware teams may not get a closer look before the draft could work in New York's favor.
Regardless of his position, Ntilikina is in a class of his own due to his defensive prowess. At 6'5", he's physically strong and has the ability to hold his own defending both guard positions. Phil Jackson has been known to favor taller point guards over the years, and Ntilikina undoubtedly fits the bill. His man-to-man ball pressure quickly smothers an opposing player.
Ntilikina keeps his cool relatively well, but still has the agility necessary to pick up the pace and chase an opposing ball-handler down the floor as well. Not only is he quick, but his instincts are already matured due to his experience playing abroad. Ntilikina isn't one to get fooled off the dribble.
His defense is truly what makes Ntilikina a superior prospect, but he's explosive on offense as well. He's someone who can play the role of aggressor and take initiative to make things happen. With the youngster running the floor, New York would undoubtedly play with an extra pep in their step. The offense would be fast-paced, but certainly not always run to perfection.
Ntilikina still needs to develop a refinement in his game that allows him to make better judgements. Point guards who can push the pace are special players, but those who can make smart decisions to help them specifically control the tempo are all the more rare. Ntilikina's overeagerness on the offensive end can lead to careless turnovers.
That said, there's a reason a team like the Knicks may want to prioritize Ntilikina over prospects like Malik Monk and Dennis Smith Jr. The dedication to passing the ball and making his teammates look good is there. He has positive intentions, even if the end result doesn't come out as perfectly as planned. Someone with that level of awareness should be considered all the more valuable than a prospect with an one track mind toward scoring the basketball.
Ntilikina needs to work on changing (or simply controlling) his speeds over the course of a given contest. Learning not to force things with the basketball would go a long way toward improving his draft stock. Still, at this point he nevertheless emerges as one of the stronger two-way players potentially set to be available at eighth overall.
The Knicks have certainly had success with international prospects in the past, and Ntilikina looks like he could be next up in the line of succession.