Frank Ntilikina is in a battle with the current coaching staff over playing time, but apparently he had a high-ranking player fighting for when he should have played last season.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Kristaps Porzingis was among a small group of players who asked Jeff Hornacek to start Ntilikina at point guard last season. Frank ended up only starting 9 games, and now Hornacek is gone.
Under new coach David Fizdale, despite his recent string of DNPs, Frank has started 14 games already. The French guard has nearly identical shooting numbers whether he starts or comes off the bench (~35%), but it’s his defensive prowess, and fit with Porzingis, that makes a difference.
The Knicks played to a +4.4 rating when Porzingis shared the court with Nitlikina last season, compared to a -1.6 rating when Porzingis played without the 2017 lottery pick. Knicks fans have missed the duo in the pick-and-roll defense this season.
Ntilikina finally found playing time against Brooklyn, after spending the last three games on the bench. He helped spur a Knicks comeback that fell short. When asked after the game if Frank would see more time against Charlotte, Fizdale indicated that he needed to watch the film before making a decision.