New York Knicks: 5 reasons Frank Ntilikina was a good pick

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Frank Ntilikina of France is interviewed after being introduced as the number eight overall pick to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Here are five reasons why Frank Ntilikina was a good pick for the New York Knicks in the 2017 NBA Draft.

I can tell many critics were surprised by the New York Knicks taking a chance on the young 18-year-old from France. The Knicks selected guard Frank Ntilikina with the eighth pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, throwing away any possible trade talk and focusing on building with their teenage playmaker.

While most NBA and Knicks fans were focused on NCAA standouts like Malik Monk and Dennis Smith Jr., especially when they remained on the board at No. 8, the exceptional offensive talent those players showed in college was not enough to sway team president Phil Jackson, who wanted to emphasize defense this offseason.

It definitely took a while for Knicks fans in attendance during the NBA Draft to understand the vision of the pick, hence the mixed reviews. Nevertheless, there’s a large deal of optimism among Knicks fans hoping for a turnaround after a very forgetful season.

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Frank Ntilikina of France is introduced as the number eight overall pick to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

5. Excellent size for a point guard

 At 6’5″ and a little over 170 pounds, Ntilikina towers over smaller defenders when handling the basketball. He’s no Magic Johnson, but his length mixed in with ball handling and evolving passing skills proved to be a lethal combination in France.

Ntilikina’s seven-foot wingspan, mixed in with a strong desire to compete on the defensive end, will be a breath of fresh air for many Knicks fans looking to see some good defense. The ability to push the basketball at his height offensively and fight around screens make him a threat on both sides of the ball.

As he continues to develop physically, Ntilikina will be wiser in regards to how he’ll handle the opposition, forcing them to play more of his style to keep up defensively.

Imagine the possibilities Ntilikina will have after developing a post game to work on smaller defenders. All the talented point guards currently running in the league will be forced into tough matchups dealing with Ntilikina’s length.

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Frank Ntilikina of France is introduced as the number eight overall pick to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

4. He’s only 18 years old

It’s extremely important to point out that Ntilikina wont turn 19 years old until July and has been a professional for a few years already in France. The calm composure he displayed at the NBA Draft addressing the various media outlets on hand shows his maturity in a usual hostile environment better known as New York City.

The confidence and poise shown on the court were big reasons as to how he shot up the NBA Draft boards the past few weeks. He’s got a smooth playing style that is a completely different rhythm from the Knicks’ starting point guard of last season with Derrick Rose. His style may not be as aggressive with the basketball, but it’s effective by methodically picking different spots to score or set up teammates with timely passes.

Age is truly nothing but a number in regards to Ntilikina. The France native already knows how to move as a professional. He will only get stronger over time and enhance his abilities while adjusting to the NBA game.

New York Knicks

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Frank Ntilikina of France is introduced as the number eight overall pick to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

3. Versatility at multiple positions

In today’s NBA every player on the floor is needed to do multiple things for specific scenarios that include going big or small lineup-wise. Ntilikina’s exceptional size and shooting ability make him options for either guard position and possibly even the small forward position against certain teams.

While playing for Strasbourg, France, Ntilikina displayed the ability to guard multiple defenders and still play the passing lanes. His offensive skill-set as either the primary ball handler or off-guard have made him valuable in many offensive schemes, especially the infamous triangle offense Jackson is desperate to make work in New York.

The versatility to have him play multiple spots on the floor allow for different combinations the Knicks coaching staff didn’t have at their disposal from the guard position.

Ntilikina is currently slated as a point guard but that designation will be fluid throughout his career. Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek will be thrilled to have so many lineup options late in games depending on their matchups.

New York Knicks

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

2. Impressive athleticism

Ntilikina should have Madison Square Garden jumping once in the open floor, as he is no stranger to finishing strong at the basket. His ability to play smooth with plenty of energy on both ends of the floor is a key component for the Knicks moving forward in their quest back to relevance.

A quick first step with the basketball, paired with a strong court presence, makes him a very tough cover as the ball never remains stagnant. Finishing at the rim against bigger players in France showed the lack of fear needed to excel at the NBA level, as things will only get more physical from here.

There are still plenty of opportunities for improvement as the soon to be 19-year-old will need to hone his athletic abilities to the opponent. He may not be a freakishly athletic talent like Dennis Smith Jr., but he is a reliable option going to the rim or pulling up for a good shot in transition.

2017 NBA Draft

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Frank Ntilikina of France holds up a team jersey after being introduced as the number eight overall pick to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

1. He is a willing defender

It’s been talked about often regarding Ntilinka is his great defensive pressure on the basketball, making plenty of offensive players uncomfortable. His length is the advantage that he uses very well as opposing guards are not used to a defender with the seven-foot wing span and quickness to attack the basketball.

It’s a different caliber of point guard that the Knicks were seeking in regards to stopping other great guards. Among the many that were in the lottery, Ntilinka was highly rated by many scouts for his tenacity and ambition to stop the offensive player. The desire already built in — mixed with some extra coaching — makes for an amazing potential combination for years to come in New York.

Knicks team president Phil Jackson took time away after the draft to address his excitement with the media for Ntilinka’s defense as a big part of the team’s future.

“We like the size of this young man, we like his aptitude for the game, athleticism, actually the ability to incorporate himself in a winning type of a situation, He’s up court playing full-court defense. He’s aggressive. He likes to do that. He thinks that’s a big part of who he is.”

Phil Jackson has been the target of all the Knicks’ problems recently but they can easily be silenced if Ntilinka is almost as good as projected out of the gate.

NBA Summer League is right around the corner, so Knicks fans, get ready to finally see your potential new star for years to come.

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