AP Photo/Eric Gay
The Dallas Mavericks are the “likely next destination” for free-agent guard Frank Ntilikina, per league sources to NBA reporter Marc Stein.
The New York Knicks selected Ntilikina with the No. 9 overall selection in the 2017 NBA draft. He played four seasons in New York, averaging 5.5 points on 36.6 percent shooting and 2.7 assists in 19.5 minutes per game.
The 23-year-old averaged 21.3 minutes per game over his first three seasons, but he fell out of the rotation under new head coach Tom Thibodeau last season.
After the 2020-21 campaign, the Knicks declined to make Ntilikina a $7 million qualifying offer, which led to him becoming a free agent.
Ntilikina’s strengths are on the defensive end. He notably finished 17th among 95 qualifying point guards in defensive real plus-minus during the 2019-20 season, per ESPN.
According to Basketball Reference, Ntilikina posted a career-best 108 defensive rating and 2.2 defensive box plus-minus last year.
He’s certainly a good asset on that end, and the Mavs can use a player with his skill set after finishing just 20th in defensive rating last year, per Basketball Reference.
However, Ntilikina must improve on the offensive end. He’s never shot better than 39.3 percent from the field in any single season, and he’s also a career 32.8 percent three-point shooter.
Still, Ntilikina is just 23 years old, so it’s possible a change in scenery helps him as the next NBA season approaches.