The New York Knicks have had their share of lottery misses over the years, and while that hasn’t been good for them in terms of success, some of the players have gone off to have decent careers elsewhere.
Kristaps Porzingis, once thought to be the future of the Knicks, was shipped away and the team went into another rebuilding phase.
While Frank Ntilikina was never exactly billed as a savior for New York, he was a fan-favorite when here and fans wished him the best despite him never realizing his potential. Eventually, he departed to the Dallas Mavericks where he came off the bench.
Now that Jalen Brunson has joined the Knicks, Ntilikina could potentially play a bigger role for the team, and team owner Mark Cuban had nothing but praise for the former New York lottery pick.
Big Things Ahead for Ntilikina
While you won’t see Ntilikina putting up 25 points per game on a regular basis, the stage is set for him to play a bigger role for the team.
When asked by Sports Illustrated about the loss of Brunson and who will step up, Cuban mentioned the former lottery pick, and said he will be even better next season.
“People forget we have Frank (Ntilikina), who will be better this year,” he said. “We went into last season with Luka (Doncic), (Jalen Brunson), and Frank and turned our season around more than a month before the trade deadline.”
Something Ntilikina has been known for throughout his career is his defense, and while he still leaves a lot to be desired offensively, the defending alone is enough to earn him minutes.
When asked about who he believes to be underrated on the Mavericks roster, Cuban named both Ntilikina and Christian Wood.
“I think Christian (Wood) and Frank (Ntilikina) both,” he said. “In particular, what Frank did defensively (in the postseason) while being sick and banged up was insane.”
Sports Illustrated’s Dalton Trigg believed the guard is poised for a breakout season in the absence of Brunson.
“Though the 24-year-old struggled to find a regular spot in the Dallas rotation in the regular season or the playoffs, he showed flashes of the impact he can have on games when the Mavs upset the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals,” Trigg wrote. “His defense was particularly impressive, namely his individual efforts guarding Devin Booker and Chris Paul. He notably recorded four steals to set the tone defensively in the Mavs’ 113-86 win in Game 6.”
If Ntilikina can develop into even an average scorer, he could end up having a long career in the NBA, even if he doesn’t blossom into a star.
Knicks Hitting on Picks
While Ntilikina ended up being a wasted draft pick for the Knicks, the team has gotten a lot better at drafting in recent years.
RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes and Mitchell Robinson are all Knicks draft picks who can all contribute in the NBA. Of the group, Robinson has already been resigned to a second deal and Barrett is on the verge of doing so as well.
Quickley and Grimes are coveted by the Utah Jazz in a potential Donovan Mitchell deal, so they are not guaranteed to stick around. However, the Knicks have proven they value them, so they might not be locks to be traded despite what fans may believe.
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