3. Frank Ntilikina, Charlotte Hornets
The former eighth-overall pick at the 2017 draft, Frank Ntilikina made his way to the Lone Star State when he signed a two-year deal with the Mavericks back in September 2021. He was expected to be a solid role player after averaging 5.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in four seasons with the New York Knicks.
Much to his dismay, Ntilikina never got going with Dallas. He only averaged 12.3 minutes across 105 games with Dallas, missing 59 games due to his either being injured or a healthy scratch. He didn't do much with the playing time that he did see, tallying a 3.6 PPG clip while shooting 38.6% from the field and 30.9% from three-point range.
With the Mavericks not interested in bringing him back, Ntilikina opted to join the Charlotte Hornets in free agency. After all, they're a young up-and-coming team and there was belief that he could be a part of their growth.
Fast forward to now and Ntilikina still hasn't made his Hornets debut due to a fractured fibula that he suffered during the preseason. He was only expected to be out for four weeks, but we're past that timeframe at this point. He's been practicing with Charlotte's G League squad (Greensboro Swarm) but time will reveal when he's finally ready to make his NBA return.
Could Ntilikina turn things around upon his return? Maybe, but it's tough to have faith in a player who hasn't played more than 58 games in a season since his rookie year (78). It's also his seventh NBA season, meaning he likely is who he is at this point.
Adding salt to the wound is the fact that the Hornets are currently 7-18, which ranks third-worst in the Eastern Conference. Even if he has a full recovery, chances are that Ntilikina will be with a bottom-feeder for the rest of the season, whereas the Mavericks are on track for a postseason appearance.
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