How the New York Knicks can utilize Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina
Apr 6, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina (11) moves the ball against Miami Heat shooting guard Rodney McGruder (17) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Striking out in free agency when it comes to bringing in superstars certainly didn’t help the New York Knicks‘ point guard problem. But maybe it isn’t a problem at all with Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina featuring at the position.

The question will be — how can the New York Knicks utilize both and extract the most value?

Smith Jr. is the option with more optimism and scoring proficiency while Ntilikina is a defensive maestro that can lock down players in that facet. However, he’s a terrible scorer and hasn’t shown any growth in that respect.

How will the Knicks utilize both? I anticipate Smith Jr. will be the primary starter on an everyday basis while Frank plays a reserve role that features in defensive situations – if the Knicks are up by five with one minute left, the Frenchman will be called upon to help hold the lead.

Both point guards have been working tirelessly this offseason to improve their shooting abilities and add another element to their games. Ntilikina averaged 5.9 points per game while Smith Jr. earned 14.5 over two seasons. Both are going into their third professional campaigns and will ultimately be competing for the starting job.

While the Knicks didn’t manage to bring in players like Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, or D’Angelo Russell, they still created competition between two options with plenty of talent. One is obviously more capable when it comes to scoring and Smith Jr. working on his outside shot should add another component to his game.

There’s reason to believe he can really blossom in 2019 after learning the Knicks’ scheme last season and developing a rapport with head coach David Fizdale. Frank was reportedly on the trade block this summer and wasn’t expected to last until now, but he’s still here and ready to put the work in to find a role on the team.

“Yeah, definitely. I’m happy to be a Knick,” he said, according to Newsday. “I still take as much as I can get from every situation that I can. I’m in their jersey. I’m happy to be a Knick. I’m happy to be here. I’ll work very hard to make this situation successful.”

Add in former Pelicans point guard Elfrid Payton to the mix and we have a very interesting position battle brewing at one of the weakest spots for the Knicks.

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