Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek gave reasoning to why he isn't ready to start rookie PG Frank Ntilikina just yet.
Hornacek admitted he wants to see Ntilikina get more minutes, but the 19-year-old still has improvements to make before he's ready to run with the first team.
"Sometimes it's who meshes well with what group," Hornacek told the NY Daily News' John Healy. "Frank is meshing well with our second group, Jarrett (Jack)'s meshing well with the first group. We see times when they do mesh with other group and it's not so comfortable. It's Frank's continued work. He's learning the teams in this league, the guys in this league, he's going to get better as the season goes on."
Ntilikina is currently averaging 21 minutes per game, and that stat rose after a 28-minute game against the Pelicans last Saturday and 32-minute performance against the Spurs last Thursday.
If Hornacek wishes for the rookie to get 30 minutes a game down the road, there may be no other option than to start him, and he understands that.
"When it gets to the point where we say let's try and get him 30 minutes a game that's maybe a time when you have to look at a start just because the first group usually plays the first six minutes of the game. If you do that the first and second half that only leaves 36 minutes to go," he said. "We want to, at times, give him more minutes. Especially this road trip. He's a young guy and playing a lot of games down the road, and that's something he's going to have to adjust to, also, but I think he'll be able to do that and maybe that's when we'll rest some of the older guys, like Jarret a little bit, lower his minutes a little bit and he'll play some more."
The one area Hornacek doesn't feel he needs to ease Ntilikina into is the fourth quarter. He has been in the game during crunch time from the start, and that shows the confidence Hornacek and the rest of the team has in Ntilikina.
"That's a great start to his career to know that fourth quarters, not any big deal to him," Hornacek said. "So that's the experience he's going to gain and we like the way he's growing right now."
In his 21.4 minutes per game, Ntilikina is averaging 6.0 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.3 rebounds as well as 1.3 steals this season.