His visa issues a thing of the past, Ntilikina ready to get this season started


Last year this time, life for guard Frank Ntilikina was something he really doesn’t want to experience again.His visa issues a thing of the past, Ntilikina ready to get this season started

After signing a free agent contract with the Dallas Mavericks on Sept. 16, 2021, Ntilikina was unavailable to play in the preseason opener against the Utah Jazz due to falling behind his teammates because he had visa issues. That also got him behind the eight ball as far as trying to grasp coach Jason Kidd’s offensive and defensive schemes.

However, Ntilikina had no visa issues entering this year’s training camp. In fact, he was back in Dallas two weeks before training camp started last week.

“For me it’s kind of different because last year I came in so late,” Ntilikina said. “During free agency (last year) I came in and I remember I had to do my visa passport, so during training camp at that moment I had to go to Mexico to complete that visa process.

“Of course, last year was kind of a rush, especially with discovering a new environment.”

The road to training camp was paved with less stress and a whole lot of comfort this time around for Ntilikina.

“I was here before training camp started, I came to prepare, and I came to connect with the players,” he said. “This was good.

“Now we’re a week after the start of the camp and we’re looking good. We’ve got some stuff to tweak and adjust, but it’s going to be the same thing during the season. We’re going to keep working and getting better day after day.”

As the Mavs prepare for their preseason opener Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Tulsa, OK, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Ntilikina has a reputation of being a defensive wizard on the perimeter. But the Mavs would also like for him to step up his game on the offensive end of the floor, even so far as wanting him to become a solid playmaker.

“Definitely, I’m excited and I’m ready,” Ntilikina said. “As my other teammates and peers, we’ve worked extra hard to be as much prepared as we can for the upcoming games and the upcoming season.”

FrankIn 58 games last year, Ntilikina averaged 4.1 points1.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 11.8 minutes, and shot 39.9 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

“Frank has been who we expected,” coach Jason Kidd said. “Someone who is going to run the team, play defense and knock down open shots.

“So I think there’s no surprise with him. He’s had a good first week.”

Ntilikina spent part of this past summer playing for the France National Team. But a nagging right ankle injury prevented him from competing in the EuroBasket Tournament late this past summer, where France lost to Spain in the championship game and wound up with the silver medal.

“We made a good tournament run and we got back with the silver medal,” Ntilikina said. “But Spain was a good team. We’ve got to come back stronger for (the World Cup) next year.”

Ntilikina said the ankle injury is something that has lingered since last season, but that it’s all behind him now.

“Thankfully, I’m feeling way better and ready for the season,” he said. “I’ve been working hard at having a great body and being available. This is one thing I’ve been focusing on.”

The offseason training, Ntilikina insists, is the bedrock towards taking his game to another level

“I think it helps to do as much repetition to create habits to get that kind of break out the way,” he said. “That’s a good time in the summer to do it because of course you don’t have the games and you can go really hard in the workouts.

“Of course, it’s a lot of (watching) tapes too — seeing the game and knowing what’s going on during the game. Of course, it takes time, but with repetition and with trust and effort, you can do it.”

Especially now that his visa issues are a thing of the past.

KIDD IMPRESSED WITH SCIRMMAGE: That barnburner of a scrimmage the Mavs staged this past Saturday suited coach Jason Kidd just fine.

The White team – led by Kuka Doncic’s 27 points – wound up nipping the Blue team, 86-85, in overtime in front of 7,520 at American Airlines Center.

“A lot of times those things can be All-Star-ish in a sense of a lot of lobs, a lot of free layups, but I thought the whole team competed,” KiddKidd said. “It went into overtime and it was good. No one got hurt.

“I love the way they competed, especially with all those people that showed up to see that game.”

Tim Hardaway Jr. (20 points, six three-pointers), rookie guard Jaden Hardy (18 points, four three-pointers) and Christian Wood (17 points) were the top point producers for the Blue team, while JaVale McGee (18 points) and Josh Green (10 points) also excelled for the White team along with Doncic.

“Everybody did well — the whole roster,” Kidd said. “Both teams wanted to win. That’s the environment that we created here.

“Last year was similar. Everyone wants to win, and there’s only one team that’s going to win.”

KIDD TO THE RANGERS’ GAME?: Coach Jason Kidd said he’s considering going to see if New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge can break the American League single-season home run record Tuesday in Arlington against the Texas Rangers when the two teams play two games.

“Maybe I can catch a double-header (Tuesday),” Kidd said.

Judge is tied with Roger Maris for the AL single-season home run record at 61. If Judge hits another home run, that ball possibly could be worth millions.

“I told our coaching staff maybe we should all buy tickets and sit in the outfield,” Kidd said, “and whoever can come up with catching the ball is in charge of throwing the party.”

Told that tickets online in the left field bleachers are going for $312 apiece, and asked if he can handled that, Kidd said: “I think we can get McGeethat done. I just want to make sure (Judge is) in the lineup before I hit the green (submit) button.”

MCGEE/WOOD PLAYING TOGETHER?: There’s a possibility that centers JaVale McGee (7-0) and Christian Wood (6-9) will play together at some point this season.

“I won’t rule out that they both can play at the same time on the floor,” coach Jason Kidd said after Monday’s practice. “Both compliments each other’s skill sets. JaVale is going to tell you he can shoot threes.

“Both are big men that can shoot the ball, so that’ll be good. But we’ll see if at some point we’ll have those guys out there (together).”

Kidd has already said that McGee will start the regular season at Phoenix on Oct. 19, while he plans on bringing Wood off the bench.

Twitter: @DwainPrice

Content Source


Dallas Press News – Latest News:
Dallas Local News || Fort Worth Local News | Texas State News || Crime and Safety News || National news || Business News || Health News

Related Articles

Back to top button