New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina will be something special

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Frank Ntilikina (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Frank Ntilikina (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

New York Knicks rookie Frank Ntilikina has what it takes to be a star.

If there were any questions prior to Monday night’s matchup between the New York Knicks vs Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden on whether or not Frank Ntilikina can become a star, the 2017 lottery pick put them to rest.

In an early scuffle with LeBron James, Ntilikina showed that he wasn’t going to back down to the “King”. Instead, he stood toe-to-toe with the three-time NBA champion and future Hall of Famer, showing James and the rest of the league that not only will he not back down, but the Knicks won’t be pushed around by the rest of the league, either.

Despite losing to the Cavs, the Knicks showed a lot of poise and promise. Ntilikina had six steals, two assists, three rebounds and seven points on 2-of-5 shooting from the field. He may only be averaging 4.6 points per game in 20 minutes, but it’s definitely too early to say that he can’t get better on the offensive end. After all, we must constantly remind ourselves that he’s still a kid at 19 years old.

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It’s only a matter of time before he becomes a two-way player with the likes of Kawahi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and LeBron James, all of whom weren’t the fearful shooters that they are today at the beginning stages of their careers.

In his first season in the NBA Jimmy Butler barely shot the ball over 40% percent while averaging 2.6 points per game. Even after improving his game by his third year in 2013-2014 he shot 39% from the field before eventually becoming an All-Star the following season and becoming one of the top three two-way players in the league.

Kawahi Leonard in his first season played more minutes than Ntilikina at 24 minutes per game while averaging 7.9 points per game, shooting a better field goal percentage but failing to make opposing teams pay at the charity stripe by only shooting 77%, a far cry from the 88% he currently shoots from the free throw line.

Even LeBron James with the polished career he was able to assimilate over the course of 15 years had his shooting woes where teams would purposely back off on the young phenom forcing him to settle for long-range jumpers. This proved to be vital for opposing defenses because they didn’t have to worry about the 6’8 freight truck running through the lane for easy slams.

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It wasn’t until LeBron’s seventh year in the NBA at 25 years old where he was finally able to eclipse shooting over 50% percent from the field. So when assessing whether or not the “Frenchise” can become the franchise player the Knicks need him to be there should be plenty of positive optimism.

Consistent work over the summer with shooting coaches and inevitable training sessions with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis will prove to be vital for the rookie as he continues moving forward in his career. Be on the lookout, this kid is going to be a star.