Rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina will be back on the court Friday when the Knicks host the Nets at Madison Square Garden.
Ntilikina, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 draft, practiced Thursday for the first time since injuring his ankle during practice last Friday. The injury forced him to miss the Knicks’ last two games, a 111-107 loss to Detroit at home and a 110-89 loss at Boston.
“I’m excited,” Ntilikina said of his return. “First game at the Garden in the regular season. So yeah, I can’t wait to go out there.”
The ankle injury was the latest in a series of injuries that have befallen the 19-year-old since the 0-3 Knicks drafted him. Ntilikina missed the entire summer league because of a bruised right knee and missed the last four games of the preseason with a similar injury.
Ntilikina said Thursday that the ankle is pain-free, and coach Jeff Hornacek was impressed with his practice.
“He looked good,” Hornacek said. “He did some extra running yesterday. We put him through some stuff and it looked like he had a lot of energy. so that’s good. I don’t think there’s a question [he’s going to play] unless he wakes up and is sore. But I think he’ll be fine.”
Ntilikina, considered one of the future building blocks of the team, did play in the Knicks’ season-opening loss to Oklahoma City but was used sparingly. In eight minutes against the Thunder, he had an assist, a turnover and two missed shots.
Given his lack of playing time, he’s unlikely to play major minutes against the Nets and will not start. Ramon Sessions likely will continue to start at point guard.
Notes & quotes: Tim Hardaway Jr. felt good about the Knicks’ practice. Despite going 9-for-37 in the first three games, he said he is not concerned that his poor shooting will turn into something bigger. “The same thing happened to me last year [in Atlanta] and I overcame it,” Hardaway said. “It turned out to be a great season for me. I’m just happy my teammates are behind me and in my corner and the coaching staff has that faith and trust in me to compete.” . . . Hornacek was asked after practice about comments Courtney Lee and Hardaway made after the Boston loss that indicated the team didn’t know all the plays. Said Hornacek: “There was a few plays. There was probably five or six of them that we wanted executed and we were just a little out of position. Maybe we forgot we were supposed to turn and screen. And so those are things we’re working on. We go over it every single day. It’s new guys and a new system.”