About an hour after practice finished Sunday — as the coaches emerged from the locker room, bundled up and on their way out to the bitter New York winter — Frank Ntilikina was still on the court with an assistant, training to a hip-hop soundtrack he pumped into the facility’s speakers.
While working to tighten up his dribble through the paint, Ntilikina directed a Knicks PR representative to serve as a standstill defender. At this hour, nobody else was around to help.
Ntilikina buried his final shot, pumped his fist, and, while still catching his breath, never sounded more confident.
“I know me as a player and I know my ceiling is really high, higher than everyone thinks,” the 20-year-old told the Daily News.
Ntilikina used to pay attention to the critics. It’d be hard ignore with so many, starting the moment he was drafted eighth overall in 2017 – ahead of Dennis Smith Jr. – and labeled Phil Jackson’s final mistake. Today, Ntilikina remains a mystery, at least partially due to the Knicks reluctance to give him a consistent role.