Should the New York Knicks trade Frank Ntilikina this offseason?

Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images /

With changes likely to come for the New York Knicks this offseason, should the team consider moving their former lottery pick, Frank Ntilikina?

When Frank Ntilikina was taken by the New York Knicks with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, many were confused with the selection. Ntilikina boasted impressive defensive potential as a 6’5” teenage point guard from France, but overall he was still a raw and unproven prospect. He was only able to average 5.2 points per game in his last season with Strasbourg, a French team in the LNB Pro A league.

Drafting Ntilikina was a questionable selection by New York because of all the assured talent chosen just after him. Players such as Dennis Smith Jr., Donovan Mitchell and Luke Kennard were all drafted within just five picks following his selection.

The Knicks seemed to especially regret passing on Smith, who he was drafted right after Ntilikina, but ironically they received him from the Dallas Mavericks this past season in the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

Ntilikina showed flashes of quality defensive skills in his rookie season, but ultimately it was not enough to save his campaign from being viewed as an overall disappointment. In 78 games as a 19-year-old rookie, the Frenchman averaged just 5.9 points and 3.2 assists in 21.9 minutes per game. He shot a horrific 36.4 percent from the field in his first NBA season and he turned the ball over 1.7 times per contest.

Ntilikina’s 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio was arguably the most concerning statistic of his rookie campaign because prior to the draft, he was heralded as an excellent passer with a high basketball IQ. There were question marks about his shooting and scoring ability, but it seemed like a sure thing that Ntilikina would at the very least be an above-average playmaker.

After an underwhelming rookie season, expectations were certainly lowered. Unfortunately, 2018-19 proved to be an even worse season for the combo guard. Due to a lingering groin injury, he was only able to play 43 games during his sophomore season. When he was able to play, his shooting percentages plummeted. The 20-year-old converted on just 33.7 percent of his field goal attempts while shooting 28.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Along with his efficiency, Ntilikina’s points, rebounds and assists per game all took a dip from the season prior. His groin injury likely played a role in his subpar play, but it was still quite concerning to see such a lack of improvement from a young player. After two discouraging seasons from Frank Ntilikina, is it already time for him and the Knicks to go their separate ways?

In a March report from Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks will look to trade Ntilikina during the 2019 NBA Draft. The team is looking to trade him for a first round pick but at this point in time, it will be difficult for the Knicks to land such an asset for him.

He has not proven that he is an NBA-caliber player over his first two seasons in the league, but New York should look to trade him if it can get a respectable asset in return

The Knicks should also consider moving Ntilikina because he may not fit with the team’s plans this summer. New York is expected to pursue free agent point guards such as Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and D’Angelo Russell, all of whom are clear upgrades. It is very possible that the Knicks land a great point guard this summer, which would mean that Ntilikina would not have an opportunity to receive consistent playing time.

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With New York pursuing other players who play his position, it should become clear to both Frank Ntilikina and the Knicks organization that it is time for them both to move on.