The New York Knicks lost to the Utah Jazz, but Frank Ntilikina put his new arsenal of offensive skills on display in an invigorating performance.
Frank Ntilikina made waves during his rookie season by establishing himself as a potentially elite on-ball defender. He ranked No. 1 in the NBA in points allowed per pick and roll possession, and wreaked havoc for the New York Knicks in the passing lanes.
The knock against Ntilikina throughout the 2017-18 campaign, however, was that he failed to generate much of anything on offense.
Ntilikina finished his rookie campaign with averages of just 5.9 points per game and 9.8 points per 36 minutes. He did so on a slash line of .364/.318/.721, including a mark of .385 on two-point field goal attempts.
Yet, for as weak as his production was—and for as poorly as he shot—Ntilikina showed clear signs of promise from a scoring perspective.
Ntilikina’s shooting form is far from broken, and his size and length give him a unique advantage on the drive. Unfortunately, he struggled due to three significant factors: Inexperience, a lack of confidence, and the fact that he’s yet to undergo strength and conditioning training.
During the second game of the Knicks’ 2018 Summer League appearance, however, Ntilikina showcased a new arsenal of offensive abilities—and the benefits of lean muscle.
Ntilikina finished the 90-85 loss to the Utah Jazz with 17 points, six assists, one rebound, and a steal in 26 minutes of action. He shot 7-of-14 from the field, buried a three-point field goal, and converted both of his free throw attempts.
Ntilikina did all of that while committing just one turnover, which displays just how efficient he was with his contributions.
Clearly, stepping up and shining against a team at Summer League isn’t exactly comparable to doing so against a true NBA level of competition. What makes this performance so intriguing, however, is the fact that Ntilikina’s 17 points were accumulated in a versatile manner.
While some may be thriving in transition, Ntilikina did his damage in the half court—and he did so by flashing a full arsenal of offensive skills.
Ntilikina may not be the most explosive athlete at his position, but he proved how much his IQ can help him by using a stop-and-go move for two quick points inside. It was one of two floaters that he converted against Utah—an encouraging sign that it can become a reliable asset.
Ntilikina also drove directly into a smaller defender, utilizing his size and length to finish over the defense for an easy two points.
That would’ve been enough to be intrigued by what Ntilikina has to offer on the offensive end of the floor. It was just the beginning of his stellar showing, however, which included a three-point field goal that highlighted his expanding range.
Ntilikina also recorded four points from the post by backing smaller defenders down and converting a pair of turnaround jump shots, including this gorgeous finish:
Throw in this gorgeous move and it’s clear as day how much Ntilikina has improved over the past three months.
That’s an advanced move, to say the least.
Standing at 6’5″ with a 7’0″ wingspan, Ntilikina should be able to post guards up on a consistent basis once his body fills out. He should also be able to finish in traffic and shoot over the average defender from the perimeter.
It’s only Summer League, but during New York’s clash with the Jazz, Ntilikina showcased the very ability to do so.
If nothing else, the New York Knicks have reason to be encouraged by the changes that Frank Ntilikina is making during a productive offseason.