Frank Ntilikina Made A Powerful First Impression On Gregg Popovich

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Gregg Popovich as soon as began a 19-year-old level guard out of France, watching Tony Parker bloom right into a six-time All-Star and a four-time NBA champion with the Spurs.

The Knicks solely can dream for now that Frank Ntilikina may method that stage of impression within the NBA, however the rookie level guard did make a very good first impression on Popovich when the groups met final week in San Antonio.

“I assumed he regarded stable,” Popovich stated of Ntilikina earlier than the Knicks confronted the Spurs once more on Tuesday on the Backyard. “I assumed he regarded assured . He regarded stable. He did not look fearful in any respect. He wasn’t overly impressed with ‘I am within the NBA now, or no matter.’ He performed. He appeared like a reasonably comfy man.”

Ntilikina nonetheless hasn’t began a sport but for the Knicks, however the No.eight general decide logged a season-high 32 minutes – registering 9 factors with a career-best 11 assists – within the Spurs’ 12-point victory final Thursday.

“From a coach like that. Everyone knows it is exhausting to impress him. So I am actually grateful,” Ntilikina stated when requested about Popovich’s praise. “It is motivating for me to maintain engaged on my sport, preserve engaged on my skills to be much more comfy on the court docket.

“(Parker) was one of many first worldwide gamers coming into the NBA, very younger. I imply, he reveals an instance, reveals the best way to determine it out, clearly. He is like a job mannequin.”

Popovich added that he’d “by no means heard of” Ntilikina forward of the draft as a result of the Spurs often decide “27, 28, 29 yearly,” leaving the scouting a part of the job to longtime GM R.C Buford. However Popovich believes gamers corresponding to Parker paved the way in which for Ntilikina, Kristaps Porzingis and the present technology of European gamers thriving within the NBA.

“I feel so. There have been so many individuals come over and achieve success from different nations that it is simply not an oddity,” Popovich stated. “I feel lots of people achieve confidence from different folks’s success, simply understanding that it may occur.

“I am positive the Knicks did their homework, figured what sort of insides this man had, what sort of fiber he had. You do all of your intel. That clearly got here out fairly good or they would not have taken him, I suppose. I feel it is a lot simpler. After they come there’s most likely one other overseas child someplace on the crew. We have all obtained them. And it is made the NBA even higher. It is great things.”


Ron Baker suffered a left orbital fracture whereas being dunked on by the Pelicans’ star ahead through the Knicks’ victory on Saturday in New Orleans. The second-year guard was inactive for Tuesday’s sport and was being fitted for a face masks, the crew introduced.

“He will need to put on a masks however he does not have it but so he could not play,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek stated of Baker, who’s averaging three.2 factors and a pair of.1 assists in 14.6 minutes per sport over 17 appearances this season. “I feel he was simply attempting not to surrender – attempting to foul the man perhaps. It regarded like he went in entrance of Anthony Davis and Davis’ left hand hit (his face), in order that occurs in basketball.

“I do not assume Ron was attempting to keep away from him however he nonetheless obtained hit. Ron’s a troublesome child and he’ll proceed to play. He wished to play that sport and he wished to apply right this moment and when he will get that masks, he’ll be proper again to taking part in.”

Hornacek stated that Tim Hardaway Jr. (stress damage in decrease leg) “is progressing alongside,” however no additional timetable was offered.

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