Knicks' Frank Ntilikina has the right stuff says fellow Frenchman Tony Parker
The San Antonio Spurs will face the New York Knicks tonight, and for Knicks rookie guard Frank Ntilikina, it'll be the last time the rookie will face his basketball idol.
Fellow point guard Tony Parker was a pioneer for many French players after. Along with playing for the San Antonio Spurs, Parker has owned Asvel for three years and said Ntilikina was on their radar in 2014 before he signed with Strasbourg.
Parker believes Ntilikina has the tools to succeed in the NBA as well, but will need time to do so as he told the New York Post.
“Definitely, he’s got the right skills to be good in this league,’’ Parker said before the Knicks faced the Spurs in San Antonio. “He’s a great defender, got length. That’s always good to be good defensively early. Offensively it will come. It’s his first year. He needs to go around the league one time and get used to all the point guards. I think he’s got all the right stuff. I don’t know if New York will be patient.’’
Ntilikina is averaging 6.0 points and 3.5 assists off the bench, and in many ways is Parker’s successor in the NBA. He is only the third French point guard in NBA history, with Parker and Rodrigue Beaubois being the other two.
“I’m playing against the best French player in history. It will be a challenge playing against him. I never met him, but talked to him a bit [after the draft] about the transition and defense in the NBA, a little bit about everything.’’
Ntilikina was selected with the eighth pick in the 2017 draft, and Parker has been there for him since.
“I’m always there to try to play the big-brother role, trying to help them,’’ Parker said. “He had a lot of questions.’’
Due to their French connection, there have been many comparisons between the two. Both were born in Belgium before moving to France. However, their play on the court is different. Ntilikina is a defense-first point guard, while Parker thrives when penetrating the basket. Penetration is one of Ntilikina‘s weak spots.
The Spurs took down the Knicks 119-107 in their first meeting. Parker finished with 14 points and three assists, while Ntilikina posted nine points and 11 assists.