Kristaps Porzingis studies interviews of LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant

Carla Harmon
November 13, 2017

LeBron James has been a kind of mentor to Dallas Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr.

That quote from James came out of nowhere.

Recently, LeBron was caught hailing the rookie guard, calling him "a diamond in the ruff".

But in the process of slighting Jackson Saturday night, James also took a direct shot at Ntilikina - whether he meant to or not.

One thing is for sure, though - Kristaps Porzingis doesn't care. Truth be told, James doesn't have much reason to care for the Knicks, as team president Phil Jackson alienated both James and his close friend, Carmelo Anthony, with controversial comments and actions.

Porzingis told Adam Zagoria of SNY that Ntilikina is doing a "great job" in NY and the team loves him for it.

It's rare to see James take a shot at an opposing franchise for who they chose to draft, but everybody also knew the Knicks were looking at point guards.

Ntilikina's Knicks teammate Enes Kanter, who was traded to the Knicks in September, said that the Knicks "love" their rookie point guard. "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.

Thankfully, Kanter jumped to Ntilikina's defense and expressed how grateful he is to have the two-time LNB Pro A Best Young Player award-winner on the roster.

Neither player has been outstanding so far - Smith's numbers are better, but he also plays more and has more of a green light to shoot.

"I think in life people can think whatever they want", Ntilikina said of James' comments.

Perhaps most importantly: The Knicks have accumulated net ratings of +6.2 when Ntilikina is on the floor and -3.8 when he isn't-a difference of 10.0 points per 100 possessions. He isn't a great scorer at this point and isn't the team's top playmaker, but he does exactly what they need between his passing and defending.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek isn't anxious about Ntilikina taking the comments the wrong way.

Ntilikina plays his role as well as anyone.

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