Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks Defend Frank Ntilikina After LeBron James Comments

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 5: Kristaps Porzingis #6 and Frank Ntilikina #11 of the New York Knicks high five during the game against the Indiana Pacers on November 5, 2017 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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LeBron James thinks the New York Knicks made a mistake drafting Frank Ntilikina ahead of Dennis Smith Jr., but the Knicks players disagree.

"I mean, I don't know why he made those comments, but all I can say is we love Frank, we're happy with him," Kristaps Porzingis said Sunday, per ESPN.com. "He's doing a great job. He's playing great, and he's doing what he's supposed to. And I would not change Frank for anybody. Simple."

Smith is off to a strong start for the Dallas Mavericks, leading James to say he "should be a Knick."

"The Knicks passed on a really good one, and Dallas got the diamond in the rough," the Cleveland Cavaliers star said Saturday, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Smith had 21 points and seven assists in the loss to Cleveland Saturday, bringing his averages to 14.8 points and 5.1 assists per game entering Sunday.

Ntilikina, who was taken one spot earlier in the 2017 draft, hasn't been as good as a scorer with just 4.4 points per game but has helped in other ways with 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He is part of the reason the Knicks are 7-5, while the Mavericks sit in last place at 2-11.

"They're both great young players," Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We have Frank, and Frank has done a great job for us, his abilities, the way he's grown from day one and the things that he's worked on, we expect him to be a great player also."

Enes Kanter also had his teammate's back:

Considering these young players are just getting started in their careers, it seems premature to judge any draft picks so early. With five point guards selected in the first nine picks last June, however, they will likely all be compared to each other throughout their careers.