Knicks’ Ignas Brazdeikis struggling to find his footing

New York Post Sports 1 day ago

Ignas Brazdeikis, the Knicks’ second-round pick, showed plenty of dazzle in summer league in Las Vegas, averaging 15.4 points on 51 percent shooting, including a 30-point outing. He looked like a more efficient scorer than top pick RJ Barrett.

But since training camp commenced, the Michigan man is finding Vegas in July is not the same as the real deal in October. Brazdeikis is still looking for his first points of the preseason.

After not playing in the preseason opener in Washington, Brazdeikis entered late in the first quarter Friday and that coincided with Washington’s big run.

In all, Brazdeikis played just 6:30 and was 0-for-2, missing both of his 3-point shots.

“He’s a second-round pick and 19 years old,’’ Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “He’s definitely a work in progress. But again, every minute he plays is important for him. The kid will find his way as he takes his lumps.’’

His first shot attempt clanked off the back iron. The second was a corner 3 that glanced off the side of the backboard. There’s growing evidence Brazdeikis may take some of those lumps with G-League Westchester.

“I feel really good out there when I play,’’ Brazdeikis told The Post in his first comments of the preseason. “I feel ready and strong. I think finding my role and how I can affect the game is my biggest adjustment.”

After being Michigan’s leading scorer (14.8 ppg), Brazdeikis is adjusting to no longer being a top-two scoring option.

“That’s an accurate statement,’’ Brazdeikis said. “I’m just trying to make the most out possessions. Whether it’s getting deflections on the defensive end, getting a rebound or making an extra pass or making a cut and then just play the game I always play.’’

Brazdeikis isn’t just any second-round pick. As The Post reported, the Knicks paid Sacramento $1 million to move up from 55 to 47 to snatch the 6-foot-7 lefty sniper. They also signed him to a three-year deal, needing by rules to allocate a portion of their room exception to make it three years. He was not fazed by not playing in the Knicks’ preseason opener. “When I’m not on the court, I don’t worry about it,’’ he said. “I want the team to win. If I don’t play, I’ll still be ready.’’

He was born in Lithuania but grew up and spent much of his life in Canada. Fizdale has not had success with players of European heritage. Feuds with Marc Gasol and Enes Kanter, failing to win over Kristaps Porzingis and failing to get the most out of Mario Hezonja stick out on his résumé.

Brazdeikis, the Knicks’ lone Euro, told The Post he may play for the Lithuanian national team if it qualifies for the Olympics next summer. Brazdeikis prefers to play for Lithuania over Canada but still has paperwork to file.

“That’s always been a dream of mind to play for its national team,’’ Brazdeikis said. “I’d definitely love to do that.”

Point guard Frank Ntilikina was a rare bright spot Friday despite stats and foul trouble to the contrary.

He drew praise from Fizdale after he outplayed starter Elfrid Payton. Ntilikina supplied tough defense and dished out three assists but shot just 2 of 7. Ntilikina was a plus-0 in a 16-point loss.

“Aggressive, ball moved well,’’ Fizdale said. “I thought defensively he competed well on the ball.’’

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