When the New York Knicks drafted 19-year-old Frenchman Frank Ntilikina with the eighth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, they made a major statement.
Rather than selecting Dennis Smith Jr. or Malik Monk, the two presumed choices at the spot, they decided to trust their scouting and instincts and go with the player they thought would develop into something special under their system.
The course of development will be a long road, and it will require a lot of work, not only on the court but also in the weight room. The teenager knows he has to work on his body, since he’s remarkably lanky and wiry at the moment.
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“I’ve been working on my body so far, I’ve been working on my game, on my shot, so it’s good,” Ntilikina told Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
“I’ve been working on my body all summer. It’s very important for European players that come from overseas, the first thing we have to do is build our body. You see a lot of changes from every European player versus in the NBA. So I think it’s an important thing for me to do, so I’ve been working on this, working on my game, as [is] every player here,” Ntilikina said.
The youngster is listed at 6’5” and 190 pounds. He realizes that filling out will be essential for him, especially on one end of the court in particular.
“Yeah, I mean we all know it’s a different level here,’’ Ntilikina noted. “But I think defense itself is about mindset and about physical [toughness]. You have to be physically strong. Whatever happens, I will work on it. I know I have to work on my body to be able to do some things in the NBA. All these guys are stronger than overseas players. It’s a challenge. I’ll just go in the training room, go on the court and work on it and fix it to try to be the best player I can be.”
He has spent extensive time working with Carmelo Anthony’s trainer Chris Brickley this offseason. In the video below, the rookie is shown going through ball-handling, shooting and finishing drills.
As you can see, having a seven-foot wingspan should be an asset for him on both ends of the floor.
Last season, Ntilikina played in France’s “The Pro A” league as an 18 year old. Averaging 18.3 minutes per contest for Strasbourg, the point guard put up 5.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 43.1 percent from three-point range.
He didn’t play in the Orlando Summer League because of a knee injury that he suffered in the French League Finals one day after the draft took place.