On the outside, Knicks 2017 first-rounder Frank Ntilikina doesn't fit into today's style of play in the NBA.
It is almost a given that players drafted high already have great offensive skills, whether it be getting to the rim or shooting. But coming out of France, Ntilikina was the exact opposite as the eighth overall pick by the Knicks.
As a 19-year-old, Ntilikina came to New York with a great defensive skillset that stemmed from both his physical and mental attributes. At 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot wingspan, he had the ability to matchup with anyone on the floor. And Ntilikina also had the fundamental mind to cut off passing lanes, switch his man off screens, and more.
But, unlike others in his draft class, Ntilikina needed to see a big improvement in his offensive game. That showed when he averaged 5.9 points per game, and shot just 38.5 percent on 2-point attempts. That percentage is among the worst for rookies in the past 15 seasons.
This reverse development that Ntilikina is undergoing in The Mecca is why FiveThirtyEight's Chris Herring calls him the Benjamin Button of the NBA.
But how long will the Knicks be able to let the young French product develop is the real question. Ntilikina is a part of this rebuild that president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are spearheading, but it is Kristaps Porzingis the team is currently building around.
The 7-foot-3 Latvian big man, who is rehabbing his ACL injury, hasn't had the best success on offense when Ntilikina is the point guard on the floor. As Herring points out, Porzingis shoots eight percentage points lower when Ntilikina is on the hardwood compared to the bench, and with the Knicks scoring 102.6 points per 100 possessions with these two on the court, it is tied for the worst offense in the league last season with the Suns.
However, this group on the other side of the ball is as good as it gets. The Knicks were stingy when Porzingis and Ntilikina are on the floor together, holding teams to 95.9 points per 100 possessions, which would have led the NBA if Porzingis didn't get hurt in February. It is also worth noting that Ntilikina gives up a mere 0.65 points per possession on pick-and-roll plays, which is the best in the NBA.
This is why Perry and Mills will exactly ride out Ntilikina's development, especially given his age of 20 in his sophomore season. They are hoping new head coach David Fizdale can tap some of that offensive potential, and so far, he looks to have done it.
A new aggressive mindset that Fizdale wanted the youngster to adapt to has Ntilikina going to the lane more, and not being afraid to take jumpers. In his first start at point guard the other night, he tallied a career-high 17 points that included three 3-pointers.
So, Knicks fans should be patient with No. 11, as he tries to develop into an All-Star in the complete opposite way most players do it.