SAN ANTONIO – French level guards stick collectively.
When Frank Ntilikina was getting ready over the summer time for his first NBA season, he reached out for – and obtained – recommendation from Tony Parker. And forward of the primary ever matchup between the 2 Thursday, Parker was bullish about Ntilikina’s potential.
“I believe he has the fitting abilities to be good on this league,” the long run Corridor of Famer stated. “Clearly he is a fantastic defender. He is bought size. In order that’s good to be good defensively and offense will come. It is his first 12 months. He has to go across the league one time and get used to the purpose guards. I believe he is bought all the fitting stuff. I do not know if New York might be affected person. However I believe he could be profitable on this league.”
Ntilikina, who grew up idolizing Parker, was gassed about Thursday’s alternative. He stated the summer time chat with Parker included “transition and protection within the NBA, slightly little bit of the whole lot.”
“I am enjoying towards the perfect French participant in historical past,” the Knicks rookie stated. “Will probably be a problem enjoying towards him.”
Parker has been monitoring Ntilikina for years within the French skilled league. Parker, who owns a staff in Lyon, stated he considered signing Ntilikina earlier than one other staff in France – Strasbourg – scooped him up.
Ntilkina’s staff beat Parker’s this 12 months within the French League semifinal.
“I noticed him develop up,” Parker stated. “He was on our radar.”
Ntilikina, who was drafted eighth general by Phil Jackson, can solely dream of getting the kind of profession Parker loved. The 19-year-old stated he is typically been in comparison with Parker due to their shared nationality, however they’re various kinds of gamers. Ntilikina could grow to be a greater defender, however he’ll by no means equal Parker’s scoring and playmaking prowess.
After all, Ntilikina can solely dream of getting the kind of profession that Parker loved with 4 titles, a Finals MVP and 6 All-Star appearances.
“I believe our play is totally different nevertheless it’s an honor being in comparison with the perfect French participant in historical past,” Ntilikina stated. “I’ve watched him play for a very long time. He is among the best level guards in European Championship historical past.”
Ntilikina has proven flashes this season on offense however was struggling heading into Thursday. He was averaging 5.eight factors and three.2 assists whereas capturing simply 36 %.
Parker, 35, is in a lowered position with San Antonio this season and was averaging 20 minutes per recreation earlier than his first matchup with Ntilikina.