The first thing that jumps off of the table at you is Ntilikina’s size. 6’5 with nearly a 7-foot wingspan is elite size for a point guard. He is very athletic. Scouts call him a “true” point guard because of his pass first mentality. He has a very quick first step and can beat defenders off the dribble. He has above average court vision and is an excellent passer. His length allows him to clog passing lanes on defense and get a lot of deflections and steals.
His most glaring weakness is strength. In order to sustain success at the NBA level, he will need to add muscle. His lack of strength causes him to have issues finishing at the rim at times and can struggle against a physical defender. Again adding some muscle mass will help a lot of those issues. Another question that is always raised when it comes to international players in the draft is strength of competition they were facing. Cleary the level of competition he was facing isn’t nearly the same he will be facing next year. An inconsistent jump shot is one of his biggest issues on offense, but that can be fixed.
First Year Expectations and Fit
The team that selects Ntilikina should probably temper their expectations year one. He is a project that will pay dividends a few years down the road. He isn’t going to get drafted and start at point guard day one. The tools and physical traits are there, but need time to develop. I don’t think he makes it out of the lottery, but there is no doubt a fit with the Bucks. He would have the perfect role model in Giannis. Similar story, a raw talent from overseas with tons of talent, needing to add muscle. The situations are very similar. Given the Bucks success developing Giannis, taking a shot on developing Ntilikina would make sense. His length also makes him a perfect fit in Milwaukee. He would fit right in.
Ntilikina has drawn a lot of comparisons to Dante Exum of the Utah Jazz and for good reason. They are very similar in a lot of ways. Both tall with tremendous length, and they play the same position. The jury is still out on Exum. He too was a project when the Jazz took him fifth overall back in 2014. He is only 21 years old and has more room to develop.