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Knicks Draft Bust Signs With Serbian Club

Frank Ntilikina is set to join the EuroLeague.

Phil Jackson’s tenure as New York Knicks president didn’t go well for the team. He was let go just days after the 2017 NBA Draft. One of his last moves while presiding over the team was selecting guard Frank Ntilikina in that draft. When Knicks fans are asked why his time with the team is seen in such a negative light, Ntilikina is often one of the first reasons brought up.

He was selected eighth overall. Numerous players selected after him have had much better careers in the NBA, most notably Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo. Still, he is just 25 years old (turns 26 on July 28), and it looks like Ntilikina will try to reestablish his value away from the NBA.

Knicks Draft Bust Signs With Serbian Club

Frank Ntilikina To Partizan Belgrade of Serbia

According to a press release from the Serbian club, Ntilikina has signed a contract with Partizan Belgrade of the EuroLeague. There were some former NBA players on their roster last season including Frank Kaminsky, Bruno Caboclo, and James Nunnally. Fred Katz of The Athletic reports it is a two-year deal that can allow him to return to the NBA after one year.

While the six-foot-four Ntilikina hasn’t established himself as a reliable NBA player, he has shown the ability to be a very good defender at times. If he can continue that while showing more on the offensive end with Partizan Belgrade, a return to the NBA isn’t out of the question.

An example of a draft bust turning his career around is Dante Exum. Selected fifth overall in 2014, Exum didn’t make much of a mark in his first six seasons. He left the NBA to play overseas in 2021-22 and 2022-23 before signing with the Dallas Mavericks last offseason. Exum became a valuable player on a Dallas team that reached the NBA Finals.

Ntilikina Hasn’t Panned Out In NBA

Ntilikina has spent the past seven seasons in the NBA. His first four came with the Knicks followed by the Mavericks for two seasons. In 2023-24, he appeared in just five games for the Charlotte Hornets.

Entering the league as a 19-year-old, Ntilikina received more than 20 minutes per outing in each of his first three seasons. He looked tentative on offense often and didn’t put the ball in the hoop frequently when he did shoot. Over his first three seasons, Ntilikina shot just 36.6% from the field and  31.1% from three-point range.

It didn’t improve from then either. Ntilikina hasn’t received as much playing time in the following four seasons, but he still has yet to shoot even 40% from the field in any. In 321 career regular season games (65 starts), Ntilikina has per-game averages of 4.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists.

While there is still time to turn his career around, Ntilikina remains one of the poster boys for the failed Phil Jackson era with the Knicks.


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