New York Knicks: Is Frank Ntilikina finally ready to break out?

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina
Feb 21, 2020; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina (11) dribbles the ball against the Indiana Pacers during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have a problem at point guard, and that was a reality before the regular season even began last week. Just 12 minutes into his first NBA game, rookie guard Immanuel Quickley suffered a hip pointer injury that will keep them out for a couple of days. His momentum during the preseason inspired the Knicks and gave them a true threat from a spot that has been lackluster in recent years.

If not for an elite performance by Elfrid Payton against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday evening, there would be little to no help regarding the point guard spot this year. Payton went 12-for-16 from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, finishing with 27 points and seven assists. However, Payton is not a consistent option, considering the game before he missed every shot and recorded zero points over 18 minutes. When your PG is as polarizing as that, you cannot feel confident at this position, and Quickley offered a bit more consistency over a smaller sample size.

Nonetheless, against the Bucks, Frank Ntilikina stepped up and performed well. Over nine minutes, he recorded 12 points connecting on 4-of-4 three-pointers. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has not looked his way often, but due to injuries, he didn’t have a choice but to play Frank regularly in the contest.

Will Frank ever find his offense with the New York Knicks?

Frank has been a polarizing player for the Knicks, as he represents fantastic defensive talent but simply can’t find his offensive prowess in the NBA. It is not for lack of trying and work ethic, but rather just a lack of commitment to his fundamentals and a failure to be aggressive.

“Working [on it] is the key,” Ntilikina said. “The answer to probably everything in this game is probably work and just treat it with confidence. That confidence comes with preparation. Preparation is work. That’s what I’m going to do every day. Just trying to be better every day, in order to be the best player I can become in the future.”

There were a few occasions where the Frenchman didn’t attack the rim and tried to pass the ball instead against the Bucks, which resulted in a turnover, something he needs to work on off the court. The Knicks have kept him around for his defensive attributes but simply haven’t been enough to catapult him into a starting position. Thibodeau wants to rely on his team’s defense, but they haven’t allowed less than 100 points over the first three games.

Every year people comment on how Ntilikina could break out, but the reality is unless he becomes more aggressive toward the basket, he will never become the offensive player he’s capable of being.