When it comes to backcourt play, all everyone is talking about is what are the Knicks going to do with Elfrid Payton now that Derrick Rose is here? But what nobody is talking about is what are they going to do with Frank Ntilikina? He has become the forgotten man. I know most fans are tired of debating about Frank. The Knick fans that put a lot on value on scoring and box scores don’t think he is good. While the fans like me who value defense and team play love Frank.
But regardless of which side of the argument you are on, everybody agreed that this season, year 4, is make it or break it for Frank. All the excuses of not getting enough playing time in his first 3 seasons don’t matter anymore. He has been in the league long enough develop a consistent outside shot and a more aggressive mindset on offense.
A case for Frank
While Frank has still been a little timid on offense, he was good when he played. In limited minutes this season he has produced his best shooting numbers. He has shot 55.6% on 3-pointers on 9 attempts, of which 1 was a heave. But when you look at the the most important stat, wins. The Knicks won the two games in which he played significant minutes, against the Bucks and the Cavs.
Even though it’s a limited sample size you figured that by Frank just proving that he is a decent outside shooter, it would give Coach Thibodeau (Thibs) the reason he needed to get his best perimeter defender on the floor. Thibs, the coach who is obsessed with defense and corner 3s has a young player that is good at both. Aside from being a great defender, Frank shot 48% on corner 3s last season and made his only shot this season. But instead he has preferred to play two mediocre vets; Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock.
In sports, if two players are close in production, the coach usually goes with the younger one because of upside. Regardless whether you like Frank or not, everyone is in agreement that vets like Elf and Bullock are not part of the future. Even Derrick Rose, a Thibs guy, who is going to get the keys to the offense won’t be on this team after next season. Rose is 32 years old, has had a lot of injuries, and is well past his prime. So whether you like Frank or not, all Knick fans understand that the kid is an asset. It would be smart for the Knicks to give him some run, if for anything else just to improve his trade value. Giving him some minutes won’t hurt the team, if anything, it could only help.
While I hope this isn’t the last article I write on the French Prince in a Knick uniform, it probably is. Personally, I am disappointed we are even having this discussion in his 4th season. The Knicks were awful in his first 3 seasons and this season they might make the playoffs as an 8th seed if Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett can keep playing at their current level. It truly makes no sense why they haven’t played him more or traded him away sooner when his value was higher.
Instead of investing in a high character kid like Frank, the Knicks prefer to give the guy he was drafted to replace, Derrick Rose, another chance. Rose, who as a Knick went AWOL and was a no-show for an NBA game is reunited with his former coach, Thibs, and his former agent, Leon Rose.
At this moment, all we can hope for is that Frank goes to a good organization what values his game. While the Knicks might have given up on him, there will always be a Frank hive in New York.