Gaines, who worked as a Bulls scout with Jackson in Chicago, was the major player in the Knicks tabbing Langston Galloway two years ago out of the D-League and is credited with pushing Jackson to draft Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4 in 2015. After scouting Porzingis in Spain, Gaines told Jackson and general manager Steve Mills he should be taken No. 1 overall. According to the source, Gaines believes Ndour can turn into a defensive stopper at the small forward position and wants to develop him. Ndour hasn’t been in the rotation, but has played seven games with Westchester and the club remains committed.
But there are a few things that make Ntilikina’s game translate to the NBA. Standing at 6’5″, with almost a 7-foot wingspan, Ntilikina’s frame is very impressive for a point-guard. His ability to defend on bigger guys is already solid, and he can vastly improve once he gets bigger and stronger. “I think his defense is worth a mention,” an international scout told Def Pen. “He has the chance to be a lockdown defender. I saw him in a game against Orleans this year, and he had a very impressive defensive game. He was everywhere, switched on almost everybody and helped his team to steal at least 4-5 balls.”
Ultimately, the combination of frame, length, defense, three-point shooting, court vision, unselfishness is what makes Frank Ntilikina look like the next big thing in international basketball, a player that may interrupt the dominance of American guards in the NBA. It’s always tough to find an NBA comparison for a player who hasn’t played a single minute in the league yet but it’s such an ordinary thing, so let’s finish this with a comparison. “If I have to make a comparison,” an International scout said to Def Pen. ‘I’d say that Ntilikina may be like a taller Dennis Schroeder”.
Porzingis, who started feeling pain on Christmas Day when he suited up with a bruised knee, is averaging 34.8 minutes per game (1,112 total) in his second season. As a rookie, the playing time for the lean Latvian hovered at 28 minutes. “He’s just turned 21,’’ said the NBA scout who has worked for multiple teams. “They’re draining Kristaps, putting more minutes on him than anyone. Physically he grew in the offseason. It’s a tremendous amount of strain on new material — ligaments, tendons, knees joints for a big guy. It’s unbelievable stress on his body.’’
But the scout alleges Hornacek, on a three-year contract, views Porzingis in a shortsighted way instead of long-term. “At this stage, they’re asking for it,’’ the scout said. “They’re shooting themselves in the foot. The problem is Jeff has to win and has to go with everything he’s got to win.’’