Knicks’ Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina get ‘soft’ label from early evaluations
The New York Knicks have been transparent about their desire to develop youth throughout this season, standing very little chance to compete for a playoff spot with All-Star Kristaps Porzingis still on the shelf. Yet exciting draft products like rookie Kevin Knox and second-year point guard Frank Ntilikina have left much to be desired, even getting labeled as “soft” through early coaching and scouting evaluations.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, those close to the Knicks organization have grown frustrated with their lack of development, but stress patience, as both figure to play a large role in the team’s future.
Ntilikina was selected eighth, Knox ninth — but neither has come close to playing up to that status, leaving league personnel, including some coaches, less than glowing in their assessments. According to those interviewed, Knox settles too fast for 3-point shots and refuses to move the ball. Ntilikina was cited for not having the wherewithal to play point guard, and one person even called the Frenchman an overrated defender. The word “soft’’ was used to describe both potential linchpins to the Knicks’ future. However, one team executive told The Post about Knox, 19, and Ntilikina, 20: “A lot of teams are abiding by ‘Trust the Process.’ It’s best to be patient on both guys.’’
Knicks fans didn’t receive Ntilikina or Knox with open arms when they were initially selected by the team, but the same thing happened with Porzingis, who has turned into their unicorn of salvation and the only salvageable asset from the Phil Jackson era.
Knox quickly won the hearts of New York faithful with rousing performances in the Summer League, but the regular season has sent a useful reminder of the difference in caliber from those games to the real thing.
Ntilikina has the length and athleticism to become a capable defender, but his struggle to put on muscle or develop any semblance of an offensive game has forced coach David Fizdale to play musical chairs with Trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay through the early get-go.