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Where did Frank Ntilikina go?

The Good News: Frank Ntilikina was one of only two members of the New York Knicks to finish Thursday's 128-100…

The Good News: Frank Ntilikina was one of only two members of the New York Knicks to finish Thursday’s 128-100 blowout loss to the Boston Celtics without a plus minus in red. The bad news: It’s because the 20-year-old like the second wounded guard Ron Baker never sat in court at TD Garden.

Thursday’s game marked the third straight DNP CD for Ntilikina, the 6-foot-6 Guard, which New York chose with no. 8 pick in the 2017 NBA draft (a place immortal in some parts like five places in front of Donovan Mitchell). And the French view does not seem to be so happy about it. After his first homage to Milwaukee Bucks, Ntilikina said that he felt more motivated than frustrated during the move. He apparently seemed a bit more miffed (but still “respectful” ) after the other, against the Washington guides. After the third in Boston he left the changing room quickly without talking to reporters.

Knicks picked Ntilikina and hoped he would be a basic two-way part of a long-term rebuilding project. But his ongoing offensive fighting – namely a catastrophic 39.2 effective targeting percentage this season – has cost him playing time and insisted on what role, if any, he will occupy New York’s still developing drawing.

“League Staff” recently described Ntilikina to Marc Berman of New York Post as “unaggressive”, “soft” and stuck without a position where he can distinguish. The same day as the story of Post Athletic and ESPN reported that several teams had expressed interest in Ntilikina. There is Orlando Magic, which has a wingspan fetish and no point-guard prospects in the pipeline. Phoenix Suns may design the pairing de facto point guard Devin Booker with a defensive-minded friend, along with the James Harden-Patrick Beverley Partnership in Houston. Brooklyn Nets might prefer to take a fly on a former lottery bell to handle the ball and defend with Caris LeVert instead of popping up to pay Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie when they go free agency here this summer. And Memphis Grizzlies may enjoy the idea of ​​Ntilikina serving as Mike Conley’s underwear.

The jury is still looking at which position Ntilikina should play and if he can ever live up to his draft position, but there is still potential for NBA sophomore to become a trusted defender. He is one of 43 players in the league this season to spend at least 20 percent of his floor time defending punters, 20 percent on shooters and 15 percent on small forwards, according to Krishna Narsus defensive position data. Such versatility remains valuable in an NBA where you can not have enough players to protect multiple circumferential positions.

Ntilikina rated last season as an elite defender for pick-and-roll boll dealers, which only allows 0.65 points per holding in the situations best in the league among defenders to protect a large volume of such games. He has not been so good this season, but he still holds the ball handler to the same point effectiveness in the settings as the wingers like Robert Covington, Kawhi Leonard and Josh Richardson. Knicksna allows 4.6 fewer points per 100 possessions with Ntilikina in court last season, according to Cleaning the glass and they announce 4.1 fewer points per 100 possessions in his minutes this season. He will not be 21 until the end of July, and he is already a legitimate quality, NBA defender, no matter how far his crime must go.

As said: His crimes have a long way to go.

Confirmed as a very raw offensive prospect in the draft, Ntilikina confirmed in a quiet new year’s season – that he started late, thanks to a sprained knee that hit him out of the summer – that he was not ready to contribute in an important way at that end . His miseries still have in year 2: he is in average only 5.9 points and 2.7 helps 23.1 minutes per game.

It’s getting worse. After finishing last season with the most effective field target percentage of any player to qualify for the record per game table, Ntilikina is actually shots worse this season, giving him a hurry for an uneven repeat. He talked about working to be more assertive with the ball, but it has not been translated consistently yet; He takes a little less shot per minute and per possession than he did as a rookie.

Ntilikina rarely looks to penetrate, on average, only 4.4 units per game, just in line with last season. He also goes out of these units instead of looking for his own shot about as often, and he comes to the free kick even less than he did last season; among the first and second year players to log at least 500 minutes this season, only Lonzo Ball has a lower free kick. Add all and Knicks, which rank an already bad 23rd NBA in offensive efficiency, per Cleaning the glass produces 6.3 less points per 100 possessions in Ntilikina’s minutes and scores at a rate well below the league s worst attacks.

With Ntilikina floundering on crimes, Knicks coach David Fizdale removed him from the starting line in mid-November and chose more aggressive and productive recycling projects Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke at the point while leaning on Tim Hardaway Jr., 2017 second turner Damyean Dotson , and undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier on the wing. Ntilikina’s playing time fell to less than 15 minutes at the end of the month. After that, nine matches, on the hedge of subsequent pointless outings against Detroit and Philadelphia, were all out.

In a vacuum, you can understand Fizdale’s decision. Knicks ranked 29 in the first quarter offensive efficiency when Ntilikina left the starting line. And as the first year’s head coach tries to install his system, he certainly wants to reward players who give the aggressive game he prefers (Mudiay, Trier, Burke), even though their production is growing and decreasing. But the Knicks season does not happen in a vacuum. It happens in a context where more than half of the roasters, including Mudiay and Burke, will hit a freebie this summer and only three players, Kevin Knox, Hardaway and Ntilikina, have currently guaranteed contracts that extend beyond 2019-20 .

Kristaps Porzingis will join them, provided that the injured big man agrees with a lucrative extension of his rookie contract this summer. So, hope, Knicks, will be a dummy-free agent. Landing a star to pair with Porzingis, however, requires that the financial flexibility of offers a maximum contract. Significant, in all likelihood, delays all their own free agents. So why pumps up their minutes and values ​​rather than continuing to give Ntilikina the chance to play through their matches like they did with Knox, who broke through 26 points to Bucks after a lot of downplay?

Porzingi’s absence after tearing his ACL last season shifted focus to the future. After a strong start to the season in that regard, Fizdale seems to have woken another course. He says that Knicks loves Ntilikina and that “It’s not like he’s out” but he has kept Ntilikina out of the line even with back-up protection. Burk sideways by an MCL sprain. Fizdale has also suggested that he finally put on a rotation – previously Ntilikina stood outside the ball and in the corner, to his disadvantage, and now he has no part.

Ntilikina has shown blinking offensive skills and two-way value as Knick’s starting point watch as his 17-point excursion in his first start of the ball against Golden State Warriors:

But today, one must wonder if he gets the chance to get anything else in New York.

“I know it’s been a bad moment for me, shooting-wise,” told Ntilikina for reporters after he left without goals in Philadelphia, just before the start of his DNP string. “But it will be great. It’s the story of NBA. It’s the story of young players coming in, and you know, that’s what happens.”

Sometimes the story has a happy ending . Sometimes the NBA writes another kind of story for young players who can not shoot yet.

“We must know who goes forward from this group, and not every player on this roster, unfortunately, Fizdale said before Ntilikina’s third straight DNP.” It’s the business. “

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