NBA: Knicks pick caps crazy week for France's Ntilikina

Frank Ntilikina of France holds up a team jersey after being introduced as the number eight overall pick to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center.
Frank Ntilikina of France holds up a team jersey after being introduced as the number eight overall pick to the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Frank Ntilikina jetted in from France for the NBA Draft, took his bows at Brooklyn's Barclays Centre in New York after being taken eighth by the Knicks, then looked forward to flying back home for his championship series.

The 18-year-old guard said he would not have missed this whirlwind week for anything.

"Definitely this week is one of the craziest weeks I've been through in my whole life, trying to get the championship tomorrow, so definitely great," said Ntilikina, who met Knicks front office chief Phil Jackson on Wednesday.

The National Basketball Association's highest drafted French player, he will take a charter flight back to France in the wee hours on Friday to compete in the fifth game of the French League finals with his Strasbourg team against Chalon.

The all-round, 1.96 m Ntilikina whose long arm span could make him a defensive terror on the court, said the Knicks had added a valuable player.

"What will I bring to the Knicks, actually a lot of hope," he said. "I think I'm a player who will trust the process, work hard, and definitely try to be the best player I can be, who will give energy," he told reporters.

 

"I'll just try to make my team-mates be better every day, and I think I can play defence, too."

Ntilikina said he was pleased to be joining a team that already has a number of international players on their roster.

"To be drafted and to play in a place that already has international players is just great to adapt to the environment," he said.

The Knicks had four Europeans on their roster last season, foremost among them the 2.21m Kristaps Porzingis of Latvia.

"Definitely just to play with him would be great, I think," he said. "We're both European, we both have a good IQ and play pick-and-roll with him will be great."

Ntilikina told reporters that he would not play for the French national team in this summer's European Championships in order to spend time with the Knicks, who start summer-league practice in Orlando on June 28.