The New York Knicks are likely to be encouraged by Frank Ntilikina’s performance in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, as he showed a strong display in an 89-79 quarterfinal win against Team USA. Ntilikina has been part of a new offseason program that has allowed him to bulk up and fill his 6-foot-5 frame, something that looks to have reaped some fruits in this competition.
Ntilikina got the start for today’s game, quickly honing onto the smaller Kemba Walker and pestering him throughout the game. Most importantly, his mobility looked outstanding despite adding weight — a welcome sign for Knicks fans that have awaited his progress.
“One scout watching Wednesday’s game — and the entire World Cup — noted that Ntilikina is moving well with the weight he’s added. The scout also noted that Ntilikina played with a poise and confidence that the evaluator hadn’t seen often in the NBA,” wrote SNY’s Ian Begley. “If that confidence — and his production on Wednesday — translates to training camp, maybe Ntilikina can open some eyes and earn some minutes with New York.”
Ntilikina is likely third on the depth chart coming into camp behind starter Dennis Smith Jr. and new signing Elfrid Payton, but he could claw his way to some minutes if he can prove to contribute at both ends of the floor. The 21-year-old poured in 11 points and three assists during Wednesday’s win, including a 3-pointer that helped France bury Team USA late in the fourth quarter, earning them a ticket to the semifinals.