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Is Former Knick Frank Ntilikina Ready to Build on Playoff Flashes?

A former Knick, ironically, has a chance to fill the void Jalen Brunson left behind in Dallas.

As Semisonic famously philosophized, every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. That's what the Dallas Mavericks face with Jalen Brunson's $104 million entry with the New York Knicks. 

Yes, the Mavs will, in theory, replace Brunson's points production with the additions of Christian Wood and JaVale McGee, but without another reliable ball-handler, Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie could be worn down by the time the postseason comes around again.

At this point in the offseason, Dallas will likely look in-house to replace Brunson's production. Some have pegged Josh Green for a breakout season, but could a former Knick, ironically, be another to keep an eye on? 

From an offensive standpoint, the Mavs probably shouldn't hold their breath, as Ntilikina has been used more as a 3-and-D guard instead of a distributor. There were only eight games last season where he recorded at least three assists, and after shooting nearly 48 percent from deep for the Knicks in the 2020-21 campaign, that dropped to 34 percent during his first year in Dallas.

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Though the 24-year-old struggled to find a regular spot in the Dallas rotation in the regular season or the playoffs, he showed flashes of the impact he can have on games when the Mavs upset the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals. His defense was particularly impressive, namely his individual efforts guarding Devin Booker and Chris Paul. He notably recorded four steals to set the tone defensively in the Mavs' 113-86 win in Game 6.

Ntilikina still has a lot to prove, but if he can keep his 3-point percentage around 35 percent or higher, as well as keep up the defensive tenacity he displayed in the postseason, he could really help the Mavs bolster their bench and cash in on the first-round potential he never truly fulfilled in New York.