Atlanta Hawks: Frank Ntilikina Should Be Primary Trade Target

Frank Ntilikina #11 Against Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Frank Ntilikina #11 Against Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

A quick look at why the Atlanta Hawks should look to trade for Frank Ntilikina of the New York Knicks this offseason.

With news breaking via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that second-year guard Frank Ntilikina has switched agents, the move likely presages a trade for the disgruntled guard who was drafted by the franchise’s ill-fated Phil Jackson tenure. Would the Atlanta Hawks make for an attractive trade destination for Frankie Smokes?

As we all know by now, Trae Young is the franchise cornerstone for the Hawks after a scintillating rookie season. However, while Young’s offensive firepower helped provide ample highlights and lifted the Hawks to five more wins in 2018-19 than the previous season, there is no question that he lacks a certain panache on the defensive end of the ball.

Ntilikina, on the other hand, is noted for his defensive prowess, and he should help to immediately paper over the Hawks’ lack of defensive talent.

DeAndre’ Bembry was one of the Hawks’ best defenders, and it was no coincidence that he was often brought in off the bench as a defensive substitute to help bolster the team on the less glamorous end.

However, Bembry vastly improved on offense in the 2018-19 season, which is an area in which Smokes would surely also have to improve if he were to see time on the court for the Atlanta Hawks. Ntilikina is only a career 35.4 percent shooter from the field with a 30.5 percent clip from deep.

Despite those truly horrendous numbers, Smokes is still extremely young, and he will not turn 21 until July.

That combination of age and potentially untapped upside would keep him right in line with the Atlanta Hawks focus on building organically with young players and a talented defender with cool hair and a cool name would certainly be a nice addition for the fans to root for, too.

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