After Ntilikina’s incredible performance in the FIBA World Cup where he led France to a championship, it is time to figure out where he may fit on this Knicks roster. Before the tournament it seemed that he would be buried on the bench and that his chances would be limited if he stayed on the Knicks this season. However, he looked much different in this tournament than he has in the past. He played with swagger and confidence. He played aggressive and took shots. He took over at the end of games and created his own shot. It is obvious to say Ntilikina will come off of the bench for the Knicks, but at what position and for how many minutes?
What position will Ntilikina play?
Well for starters Fizdale plays positionless basketball so he can play with both Payton and Trier off the bench. In fact that may fit very well because Frank and Elf can both match up with bigger players as they have solid height for point guards and they are tremendous perimeter defenders. Ntilikina and Payton would both distribute and space the floor for scorers such as Trier, Marcus Morris, Kevin Knox, and Bobby Portis Jr.. It is hard to see Ntilikina finding minutes at the point this season without injuries, but it would be possible if Payton and Smith Jr. play next to each other in the starting lineup, likely sliding Barrett to the bench. I don’t think this will happen though because if RJ plays on the floor with Trier and Ntilikina, Barrett likely wouldn’t be able to handle and facilitate as much as he ideally would. This could possibly stunt Barrett’s growth along with the fact that he would be competing against backups instead of the league’s best players.
How can Fizdale find Frank more minutes?
At times when the Knicks need defense, Payton, Ntilikina, Dotson, Morris, and Gibson could be a nice group off of the bench. A fast paced, high energy lineup could be Payton, Trier, Dotson, Ntilikina, and Portis Jr. to give the Knicks a boost. Ntilikina definitely fits nicely paired with either Trier or Dennis Smith Jr. where he can bring height and defense to counter a smaller, ball controlling, guard who scores beside him. Another opportunity for Frank to emerge is if he can play as a 3 and D guy, playing the 3 or even possibly the 4. He is a good enough defender to hold his own with taller players, but his strength training would certainly be put to the test if he had to play the power forward on defense. However, if he is paired with Knox or Morris at the wing, he can guard the smaller wing playing for the opposition.