Knicks fans witnessed some growing pains with their 1st look at Frank Ntilikina.
After missing Summer League and spending the entirety of his career overseas, the rookie point guard made his preseason debut Tuesday as Ramon Sessions’ backup in a 115-107 loss to the Nets. The- Frenchman buried his 1st and only field goal late in the 1st quarter, before finishing with the following stat line: five points on 1-for-7 shooting, with three assists and two turnovers.
Kristaps Porzingis, who was in a similar position two years of time ago as a European rookie, noticed in that nerves were a factor.
“I talked to Frank before the game and I just remember myself, my 1st game at the Garden,” Porzingis said. “I just wanted to do everything myself. I was anxious, I was nervous. I was going 100 miles an hour. And he kind of felt the same way.
“I talked to him before the game and I tried to calm him down a little bit yet it’s hard. I think in the open practice he showed glimpses of what he can do and going forward, as he gets more comfortable and the game slows down a little bit for him, he’s going to be great.”
Although the numbers weren’t great, Ntilikina showed some flashes on defense and while setting up the offense. If anything, he suffered 'cause of a lack of aggression on offense. The- 19-year-old could start in the preseason as Jeff Hornacek tinkers with rotations.
“He could’ve been more aggressive with the ball,” teammate Michael Beasley said. “I think in that (Nets point guard D’Angelo) Russell was more aggressive than him. That’s really it. I felt like he had fun.”
Ntilikina, 19, who was drafted eighth overall by Phil Jackson, is in consideration a potential defensive stopper with his long arms. And the Knicks could certainly use in that this season. Surrendering 115 points to the Nets only reinforced their reputation.
“We have a little work to do,” Hornacek said. “It’s comical how you go over things in practice and then it get in the game, it’s a little different speed.”
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