If the Toronto Raptors decide not to bring Davis back, the pending assault charges against him will clearly be the paramount reason. On the court, however, he may also be rendered irrelevant by the presence of Malachi Flynn. For as great a story as Davis was last season, the club risks sending a troubling message by keeping him around – and they might also be blocking the path of a better player. In the same vein as fellow ball handlers Lowry and VanVleet, the San Diego State product play with a chip on his shoulder stemming from being overlooked and under-recruited.
Flynn slid to the Raptors at 29 primarily because of his perceived lack of ceiling. At 22, he’s an older prospect – just a year younger than OG Anunoby, who was drafted three years prior. But with Davis’ status entirely up in the air and Lowry unlikely to play a full 72-game slate, Flynn’s age will stand as an advantage this year with Toronto valuing present NBA readiness. If all goes well for the pick and roll ace, he may find himself playing a critical role on an Eastern Conference contender.
Less clear is the role that the Raptors’ other rookie, Jalen Harris, might play this season. The Nevada product is also 22 and is fresh off leading the Mountain West Conference in scoring, but his path to playing meaningful minutes with the big club is less clear. The obvious answer would be a G League stint with Raptors 905, but who knows if and when and where that season will take place.
While Harris’ lack of initial role looms as an immediate question, that concern may be negated as the season continues. Harris’ greatest asset is his ability to create his own shot, a skill that could help buoy a second unit that may require some added offensive firepower. Even if it doesn’t, the emergence of the second-round pick could enable a trade of Powell and his cap-tightening $11.6 million player option for next season.
The common thinking on the Raptors’ off-season seems to hold that they took a small step back talent-wise to maintain flexibility and big picture thinking for next summer. And, to be fair, few people would trade Ibaka and Gasol for Baynes, Len and Bembry.
Still, Toronto still projects to remain a playoff contender even as they position themselves as players in the summer of 2021. For now, they’ve brought in a sure thing in Baynes and bet on former first-rounders Len and Bembry as change-of-scenery development candidates who could be poised for breakouts. In Ujiri and Webster, we trust.