Coming into this season, developing their 19 year old French lottery pick Frank Ntilikina, was one of the Knick’s main priorities. We knew he wouldn’t be an immediate starter, and we knew there would be some hiccups along the way as there are with all rookies. But, even considering all that it seems like with Frank’s recent struggles has landed him on the bench as the third PG option.
Jeff Hornacek went into the year with Jack as his starter and Frank off the bench. But in the two weeks, G-League standout and former lottery bust, Trey Burke has come into play. Frank has lost precious minutes. Trey has certainly emerged as a capable PG in his limited games, and has shown his command for an offense. Although he is only 5’11, he has been a true spark off the bench for the Knicks in recent games.
Frank has shown some flashes while he’s on the floor. Most of them have been on the defensive end, where he uses his incredible length and great footwork to disrupt opposing guards and force turnovers. These turnovers many times have lead to easy points for the offense. Frank’s defense is undeniably already one of the best in the league, but its his offense that really needs improvement. Early in the year he seemed a bit timid with the ball in his hands and you could tell he didn’t have great confidence in his shot. But as time went on, he has gained more confidence in his shot and his ability to handle the ball. He does have a double double this year where he had 10 points and 10 assists, and he has shown that he is certainly a pass first point guard. But at times his decision making and lack confidence have made him basically disappear in some games. He’s currently averaging 5.3 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.0 steal in just over 20 minutes a game.
But where does this leave Frank? What should Jeff do for the rotation. It seems like it’s time that Jeff went to his veteran point guard Jarred Jack and told him that his role on the team would be reduced. I don’t even mind Jeff playing more of Burke, but I do think that it’s important to not take away any minutes from Frank. Jeff should look into possibly starting Trey and bringing Frank off the bench as the primary point guard. We’re still in a rebuilding year, so let the kid make his mistakes. There will be times that he drives us nuts but it’s important that we remember he’s a teenager playing in the NBA, in a foreign country. He will take some time to adjust but it’s necessary into his role as the future PG of the New York Knicks.