- Frank Ntilikina is main the Knicks in three-point capturing.
- Taking pictures has at all times been Ntilikina’s greatest weak spot, however he may very well be a helpful “3-and-D” participant.
- Ntilikina can hit free company this summer time and he might now be a part of the Knicks’ future.
- Go to Insider’s homepage for extra tales.
Frank Ntilikina is one of the best three-point shooter on the New York Knicks.
That is not conjecture or some daring assertion — the fourth-year guard is presently main the group in three-point capturing, hitting 13 of 21 makes an attempt, 61.9%, this season.
In truth, over his final 22 video games, relationship again to the 2019-20 season, Ntilikina has shot 25-of-54, 44.4%, from three.
It is a small pattern measurement, to make certain. Final yr’s Knicks’ season ended abruptly as a result of coronavirus pandemic, and the NBA did not invite them to the Disney bubble. Ntilikina has additionally solely performed in 9 video games this yr due to a knee damage and a number of other DNPs (Did Not Play).
Nevertheless, in current weeks, Ntilikina has re-entered the rotation due to an damage to Elfrid Payton and COVID-19 protocols retaining Derrick Rose out. In that five-game span, his shot has emerged, pulling down 8-of-12 makes an attempt, together with his final six.
If Ntilikina’s capturing holds up, it might be an enormous improvement for the Knicks. Ntilikina, the 2017 eighth general decide, has at all times struggled to shoot persistently, from wherever on the court docket. In his first three seasons, he did not prime 40% capturing from the sphere or 32% from three.
That lack of capturing has harm his enjoying time all through his profession. Although Ntilikina has been a plus defender since getting into the NBA, opponents have not feared leaving him open. Mixed with a hesitancy to create his personal shot, Ntilikina has hardly ever been in a position to keep on the court docket for lengthy stretches of time.
Whereas Ntilikina has a vocal group of supporters amongst followers and analysts, many others have felt the dearth of progress in his offensive sport implies that he merely is not excellent.
NBA groups are in fixed search of “3-and-D” gamers — that’s, gamers able to stretching the ground and defending the opponent’s finest participant on the opposite finish.
Ntilikina has confirmed his worth on the defensive finish over his profession. If photographs like this maintain up, the Knicks may need one thing:
An opposing scout told SNY’s Ian Begley of Ntilikina’s current capturing, together with the above step-back three in opposition to the Pistons: “He seems stronger, and his shot seems way more comfy, repeatable. The step-back was an eye-opener. Did not assume he might do this.”
Cynics would level to Ntilikina’s 31% capturing from two and 60% capturing from the road this yr as causes to imagine his current capturing from deep is fluky. Whereas each numbers are dreadful, additionally they are small samples: he is taken simply 13 two-point makes an attempt all season and gone 3-of-5 from the free-throw line. Ntilikina shot a less-ghastly 44% on twos final season and is 74-of-89 (83%) from the free-throw line since his rookie season.
In truth, Ntilikina’s strong free-throw share has at all times made the NBA world optimistic that his exterior shot would come round.
Ntilikina is getting into a vital stretch of his profession
If Ntilikina needs to stay with the Knicks, his capturing could also be coming round on the proper time.
Ntilikina will change into a restricted free agent this offseason if the Knicks lengthen him a qualifying supply. They selected to not give him an extension earlier than this season.
Whereas the Knicks might match any supply Ntilikina receives in free company if he’s restricted, it has not too long ago felt as if the 2 sides had been heading towards a cut up. Begley beforehand reported that the Knicks shopped Ntilikina forward of the 2020 draft however could not discover gives they appreciated.
The commerce deadline is approaching on March 25, and the Knicks are reportedly eyeing targets that might enhance their playoff push. As reported within the New York Put up on Tuesday, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has weighed buying and selling younger gamers for veteran upgrades. May Ntilikina be a part of such a deal?
If he is not, then he may very well be a think about the remainder of the Knicks’ season, playoff berth or not. The Knicks are nonetheless at a stage the place they’re on the lookout for core items to be construct round — Julius Randle, R.J. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and Immanuel Quickley are presumably all a part of the long run.
Ntilikina may work his approach into it if he can maintain his capturing.
“If he can shoot persistently from the perimeter, he has numerous worth,” the scout informed Begley. “That is the form of participant each competitor wants: a defender who can shoot.”
In 2018, an NBA assistant coach informed Insider that Ntilikina may very well be a “game-changer” if he put all of his instruments collectively. The Knicks could also be watching that course of unfold now.