NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Frank Ntilikina

by Jonah Ballow
NYKnicks.com
@jonahballow

The Path
Frank Ntilikina was born in Belgium before moving to Strasbourg, France at the age of three.  Strasbourg is the spot where Ntilikina honed his basketball skills and began to take shape as an elite NBA prospect.  Ntilikina’s French squad won the 2014 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship and two years later captured the Under-18 Championship with a thrilling 31-point performance that included seven 3-pointers.  During that 2016 run, Ntilikina was named the MVP for his exceptional play while averaging 15.2 points, 4.5 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game.  Widely considered the top European prospect, Ntilikina entered his name in the 2017 NBA Draft pool while completing the French league finals.

Strengths
Let’s start with physical tools that make Ntilikina an intriguing option in this year’s NBA Draft.  At 6’5”, Ntilikina is a big point guard even by NBA standards and his length and frame will help him make the leap to the best professional league in the world.  The numbers for Ntilikina do not jump off the page due to limited minutes, which is normal for a young player participating in professional basketball leagues in Europe.  With that said, the intangibles are evident when watching Ntilikina perform on the floor.  He is a pass-first type of lead guard with extreme speed in the open court and in half-court situations.  Ntilikina’s change of pace helps to get him to the necessary spots on the floor to make a play for himself or teammates.  Defensively is where Ntilikina really shines.  His long arms are used to create havoc in passing lanes and this 18-year old can defend multiple positions.  Ntilikina’s speed from side-to-side and in a straight line should translate to the NBA where he projects to be able to handle some of the elite athletes at his position.

Next Level
There is a sense of mystery surrounding Ntilikina.  Due to his participation in the French league finals, Ntilikina did not work out for NBA teams in the United States as executives prepare for the June 22 Draft.  Regardless, Ntilikina’s demeanor, work ethic, and raw abilities have been well documented over the past year.  He is projected to be a top 15 pick in most mock drafts and the Knicks are rumored to be a team with significant interest.  A tall and athletic point guard would fit the system Phil Jackson employs and following the success of Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez, New York’s front office remains extremely confident in its scouting overseas.

What They’re Saying
“His massive wingspan will let him stick different positions and his size allows him to see over defenses and facilitate.” Jeremy Woo, Sports