Knicks rookie PG Frank Ntilikina has touted defensive abilities, but his offense is starting to show as well.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek has come to learn that if he needs some stout defending, he is going to look at his 19-year-old point guard. That's exactly what he did Wednesday night as Ntilikina was s disruptor for all 20 minutes he saw the hardwood.
"We have great confidence in him defensively. It's great that a young guy comes into the league with more defensive principles than the offensive principles," Hornacek told The Post's Fred Kerber.
Offensively, Ntilikina needs some work, but he has shown promise early on. Hornacek believes that part of his game will come in time.
"He's going to grow and get better and better at the offensive side of it. It's hard to teach the other way. He does a great job. He's got long arms. Late in the game they tried to throw the ball in the corner. He didn't get sucked in. He kind of split guys and had those long arms out."
Ntilikina isn't worried about putting up a double-double every night. He is focused on contributing on both ends of the floor in any way possible.
"Just offensively, defensively my goal is just to bring whatever I can to the team so it's going to be on both ends and that's my mindset," he said.
He may not pour in double-digit points, but Ntilikina isn't afraid of shots late in ballgames with the win on the line. He finished Wednesday night with seven points, but two of his baskets came late in a close game. He hit a pull-up jumper to bring the Knicks within two points of the lead, and came right back with another jumper the next possession.
He only took three shots, making one of them in three total quarters. The fourth quarter is where is seems most comfortable.
"Good, good, good," Ntilikina said about his shots in the fourth. "The main thing was to stay confident. Been working on the shot and I know I'm able to do it. I just have to keep being confident and hit it."
At the end of the day, Ntilikina's offense will grow as he does in the league. But his defense has yielded nothing but respect from veteran teammates like Lance Thomas.
"He doesn't back down from anyone. The kid is very, very skilled," Thomas said. "He has a high IQ on the defensive end. He always puts his hand in the right spot. He sends guys to the weaker side and he plays the passing lanes. He's doing everything he's supposed to be doing and it's amazing to watch."
Ntilikina finished the game with two steals to go along with his seven points and four rebounds.