Frank Ntilikina Believes ‘Nothing Is Lost’ As Knicks Guard Returns

After an extended absence, Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina returned to action on Friday against the Nuggets. New York’s first-round pick from 2017 played in 25 minutes, tallying five points, five assists and four rebounds.

The Frenchman had not suited up since Jan. 27 when he suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for nearly two months. Ntilikina also had not played 25 or more minutes since Jan. 21, when he totaled 30 in the Knicks’ loss to the Thunder. As Ntilikina tries to carve out a role for himself, he believes the time off helped him improve.

“Nothing is lost,” Ntilikina said to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “I’ve learned a lot. More than you think while being on the side while also working on my mind. I’ve learned a lot. I think I’ve improved a lot, even things you don’t see. Now I’m just looking what’s ahead of me and I’ll work my ass off to be the best Frank I can be.”

Much has been made of the Knicks’ decision to select Ntilikina with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Still under the Phil Jackson regime, the 20-year-old was drafted ahead of talents such as Dennis Smith Jr. (whom the Knicks recently acquired), Donovan Mitchell, and others.

Entering this summer, the Knicks are expected to be aggressive in the free agent market. If that happens, it’s fair to wonder what type of role — if any — Ntilikina will have next season. With nine games left this season, Ntilikina is aiming to show his value — and he feels the two-month hiatus helped.

“You see the game on the side,” Ntilikina said. “You’re learning a lot. You’re watching a lot of film. You’re watching a lot of behaviors. You’re watching not only your team, all the NBA. You’re trying to do something, you cannot play. You’re still trying to learn and improve. That’s my mindset. I’m trying to get better at everything. I was not chilling for this. I did improve.”

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