New York Knicks reserve combo guard, Frank Ntilikina struggled with early foul trouble against a short handed Oklahoma City Thunder roster on March 13th. Tom Thibodeau pulled Ntilikina from the game during the first quarter in the midst of a slow start against the Thunder. Frank Ntilikina ended up seeing the court again during garbage time of that contest. As a result, Ntilikina only played 7-minutes during the lopsided 119-97 victory against a Thunder team that was missing their star combo guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Frank Ntilikina has struggled offensively after the 2021 NBA Allstar weekend.

However, there’s beauty in the struggle. Ntlikina is only playing poor on one side of the ball, which is on offense. The French combo guard very rarely, if ever, struggles defensively. The 22-year old is already showing flashes of being a lockdown defender for New York.

Some fans don’t understand the fascination over Frank Ntilikina’s playing style. With the Knicks being a porous defensive team for the past 20-years, it’s always been about the energy he provides on defense. The kind of stifling, swarming, and advanced IQ defensive playmaking that helped the Knicks erase a 17-point Nets deficit in the third and fourth quarter at the Barclays Center March 15th. Defense plain and simple gives NBA teams a chance to win, that’s why plenty of Knick fans think Frank Ntilikina is such an invaluable young player for the Knicks that still has upside even at 22 -years old.

Matteo Marchi – Getty Images

It’s interesting timing in regards to alleged positive private discussions about Frank Ntilikina by Tom Thibodeau to others with the trade deadline rapidly approaching. The 2021 NBA Head Coach of the Year candidate has expressed positivity about Ntilikina’s overall upside. Coach Thibs believes the former SIG Strasbourg guard will be extremely important for the Knicks as he continues developing. Knicks currently have a strong developmental coaching staff which bodes well for the future of all the young players on the roster.

FIBA Frank Has Trust From The Senior Men’s France National Team’s Head Coach.

The coach of the senior men’s France national team Vincent Collet believes in Ntilikina as well. The French coach acknowledges that Frank Ntilikina’s intangibles isn’t teachable along with the guard’s physical tools. The French coach also believes Ntilikina will be a big advantage for the French squad going forward in future FIBA competition.

Zhizhao Wu – Getty Images

Ntilikina’s Endearment to the Knick Fanbase Makes a Ton of Sense.

Ntilikina is a hard working and humble young man who is all about winning. Coach Thibodeau along with the veteran coaching and developmental staff put together by Leon Rose and World Wide Wes, see something in the French FIBA starting point guard. The Knick guard is also the longest tenured Knick at the moment. Drafted four years ago at the age of 18, Ntilikina was suppose to be a young project according to former front office decision maker, Phil Jackson. It’s similar to planting a seed and eventually reaping the benefits, something the Knicks almost never do.

The last rookie to be extended was former point guard Charlie Ward. Ward, the former Florida State University Heisman Trophy Award winner, was another player Knick fans loved dearly due to his defense, toughness, and flat out humility. The Knicks are an improved defensive team when Ntilikina is on the basketball court. The last two times the New York Knicks went to the NBA Finals, the Knicks had a distinctive hard nosed, tough defensive reputation.

During the 1999 Finals appearance, Tom Thibodeau was an assistant coach under former head coach Jeff Van Gundy. New York Knick fans know defense goes hand and hand with winning from first hand experience. Therefore, when Frank Ntilikina steps on the court with intangibles that don’t show up on the stat sheet, a lot of the fans are very appreciative and there’s a sense of comfort from those fans when the Knicks are playing defense and Ntilikina is terrorizing his opponent and defending the pick and roll plus contesting opposing three pointers on the perimeter.

Watch Our Recap Show That Features A lot Of Frank Ntilikina Here

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