Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Mike Miller sees a subtle difference lately in Frank Ntilikina's approach:
"Before, when he had a defender in front of him, he made the pass to Mitchell [Robinson] or Bobby [Portis] or whoever. And now he's seeing open lanes to the basket, and he's going," Miller said Tuesday.
That change is significant for Ntilikina, who scouts had seen as too passive on offense in his first two seasons.
"I think he's seeing the defenses well," Miller said. "He's really picked up on that."
Ntilikina's aggressive approach helped him to a career-high 20 points on Tuesday in a loss to the Wizards. He added 10 assists. In doing so, Ntilikina became the first Knick in franchise history to have at least 20 points and 10 assists before turning 22.
"I thought he played with a lot of command. That's the word that I've been using to describe him," Miller said. "He did a good job with play calls, he was aggressive when he needed to be aggressive."
Ntilkina said he's made attacking on the perimeter a 'point of emphasis' recently.
"I was trying to work on really being aggressive and still looking for the right play. Not settling on playing on the perimeter," he said Tuesday night.
Back in June, opposing teams said the Knicks were open to dealing Ntilikina for an early second-round pick. New York obviously didn't get the offer it was looking for, but the trade whispers were an indication of how the organization felt about him.
Even earlier this year, some Knicks people said Robinson, RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox as part of the club's young core. Ntilikina, the No. 8 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, wasn't included in the group. Throughout the season, Ntilikina continued to play defense at a high level. But his performances on offense were inconsistent.
You wonder if nights like Tuesday change how the Knicks and new president Leon Rose view Ntilikina.
HOUSTON ON THE ROAD
Rose was in Washington on Tuesday - his first road game since taking over in New York. He's spending the next few weeks evaluating all facets of the team before he makes any big personnel changes with the roster, coaching staff or front office. Knicks executive Allan Houston and GM Scott Perry were also among the front office members on the trip to Washington. Houston has been on the road much more frequently lately, spending time working with players. He has a close relationship with Rose and William 'World Wide Wes' Wesley and is likely to remain with the club under Rose.