Though Knicks head coach David Fizdale said Lance Thomas will be New York's starting power forward, he suggested second-year point guard Frank Ntilikina could also spend some time at the 3 or 4.
"You see Frank out there because he can guard 3s and 4s," Fizdale said, according to Newsday's Barbara Baker. "But most of the 4s now, how teams are playing, they're playing perimeter guys at that spot. Frank gives me so many options for having a ballhandler that can do multiple things and guard multiple people."
It's not just the fact the Knicks have so much depth at point guard with Emmanuel Mudiay, Trey Burke and Ron Baker (Fizdale said Baker will start Friday's preseason finale against the Brooklyn Nets), but how Ntilikina sizes up against other forwards.
At 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, Ntilikina has a 7-foot-1 wingspan, and Fizdale compared Ntilikina to Golden State's Shaun Livingston, the veteran who is 6-foot-7 and has a versatile role with the Warriors' style of play.
"I'm hoping that's the kind of morph I can get out of him,'' Fizdale said, "where he can post smaller guys. Hopefully he can have more range than Shaun, even though Shaun can make a 3, but Shaun knows where his bread is buttered. That pull-up jumper and that post-up over the top of small guys, he's made a living with that. He also guards everybody on the floor, he can get them in the offense. That's where I see Frank in that kind of mold, as a multi-talented, multi-faceted guy."
Ntilikina said he was open to the challenge of facing power forwards in a game, and Fizdale said he would likely sample it Friday night, assuming the Nets play DeMarre Carroll.
"Guarding anyone on the opposite end is good for me. It's a challenge," said Ntilikina, who averaged 5.9 points, 3.2 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 78 games as a rookie. "And I will do my best to deny them to score, to deny them to get what they want, to deny them to get comfortable. If it's the plan, let's do it.''