Morning Shootaround

New York Knicks expecting rookie Frank Ntilikina to return tonight staff reports

The New York Knicks know this season is about assessing their young talent and building toward the future. A big part of that process may begin tonight based on how rookie Frank Ntilikina fares in his first NBA action.

Ntilikina is slated to be in the lineup for the Knicks as they host the Brooklyn Nets (7:30 ET, NBA League Pass) after he missed the team’s last two games with an ankle injury. Barbara Barker of Newsday has more on Ntilikina’s status:

Ntilikina, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 draft, practiced Thursday for the first time since injuring his ankle during practice last Friday. The injury forced him to miss the Knicks’ last two games, a 111-107 loss to Detroit at home and a 110-89 loss at Boston.

“I’m excited,” Ntilikina said of his return. “First game at the Garden in the regular season. So yeah, I can’t wait to go out there.”

Ntilikina said Thursday that the ankle is pain-free, and coach Jeff Hornacek was impressed with his practice.

“He looked good,” Hornacek said. “He did some extra running yesterday. We put him through some stuff and it looked like he had a lot of energy. so that’s good. I don’t think there’s a question [he’s going to play] unless he wakes up and is sore. But I think he’ll be fine.”

Ntilikina, considered one of the future building blocks of the team, did play in the Knicks’ season-opening loss to Oklahoma City but was used sparingly. In eight minutes against the Thunder, he had an assist, a turnover and two missed shots.

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