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Frank Ntilikina, Knicks

Is Frank Ntilikina the best player in the NBA to guard Luka Doncic?

Luka Doncic has had a breakout playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, including one of the most impressive playoff performances by a 21-year-old in Game 4 capped off by a buzzer-beater to win the game.

But earlier in the season, Doncic struggled against another young guard in the league.

In the most recent Locked On Knicks podcast ranking the value of the New York Knicks’ trade assets, host Gavin Schall laid out the argument that Frank Ntilikina should have higher trade stock than he currently seems to have.

Gavin Schall: When you’re in playoff series and you’re going up against one of the five best players in the world, if you can make one of those guys 5-10% worse, that’s one of the move valuable player types you can have in the league. And by and large, all the evidence we have on Frank Ntilikina is that not only is he one of those guys, he’s one of the five or so best at doing that in all of basketball.

I saw a stat today that in his minutes one-on-one with Luka Doncic he was essentially the best player in the NBA at guarding Luka Doncic and had done so in a not so insignificant sample size. He spent something like the 16th most minutes of anyone in the league guarding Luka Doncic in one-on-one situations. And as we saw the other day Luka certainly fits that category of top-five offensive force in all of basketball.

And to me that makes Frank fairly underrated, I would trade a non-Top 10 pick for that kind of guy.

The stat Gavin was referring to was posted by Jeffrey Bellone: “Despite only being matched up against Luka Doncic for 6:36 this season (18 players guarded him more frequently), Frank Ntilikina forced the most turnovers + blocks (7+1) of any primary defender.”