Some may not agree with his inclusion on this list, but Frank Ntilikina set the tone for the New York Knicks on defense. He frustrated Trae Young at the point of attack, utilized his length and bulked up frame to smother the ball, and led by example from the top of they key.
Ntilikina will need to show more as a scorer, but he attacked, moved well without the ball, and helped facilitate the offense during the 91-89 win.
Ntilikina scored just five points on 2-of-7 shooting, which is a continuation of a concerning trend of inefficiency. He showed an improved measure of aggressiveness, however, as he shot through his inconsistencies and did an excellent job of putting pressure on the defense.
Ntilikina added five assists to his tally, and even got to the free throw line for three attempts—all of which were a product of his willingness to attack.
Defensively, Ntilikina was his usual self. He recorded three rebounds, two steals, and one block. He made life miserable by pressuring the ball with his long arms and active hands, and switching seamlessly to pick up bigger assignments.
Ntilikina will need to be able to consistently knock down open shots when the regular season starts in three months, but you can’t put a price on elite defense.