Toronto Raptors: Expectations for each bench player going into 2021

Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Patrick McCaw (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Point Guard/Shooting Guard – Malachi Flynn

An older draftee who should be ready to contribute on his first day. Malachi Flynn was selected in the 2020 NBA draft because he does all the right things on the court. He’s a point guard that has very good playmaking skills; a good shot off the dribble and the catch-and-shoot; and is a very good defender. All the important skills 6 feet 1 guard should have — also very similar to Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.

In his time at San Diego State — where he played his last season in college — he won Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year in his division. Translating that success to the NBA will definitely be difficult with his height and lack of athleticism. But if there’s any place to do it, it’d be in Lowry and VanVleet’s company.

His role on offense will be most similar to what VanVleet was doing in the 2017-2018 season. A lot of spot-up shooting and being the ball handler in the pick-and-roll. Two areas Flynn found a lot of success in college, and one he’ll make a living doing in the NBA.

If Terence Davis does stay on the team, then it’ll be interesting to see how Nurse works both Flynn’s and Davis’ minutes. If he’s not on the team, then Flynn’s role is simplified, and he will have a very big role to fill as the back-up shooting guard.

Small Forward – Patrick McCaw

Defense aside, Patrick McCaw does not bring much on the court for the Toronto Raptors. He’s a below-average shooter, scorer, and playmaker. That was all proven when he had a golden chance to prove himself as a starter when most of the team went down to injury. In that 11 game stint as a starter, McCaw only averaged 8.5 points and 2.9 assists in 31 minutes per game.

McCaw doesn’t have any real strength on offense and that’s why it’s hard to imagine him having any significant role this season. He’s a good defender, but his slim frame allows him to be bullied when players take him to the paint.

He’ll be competing with Bembry for minutes at small forward throughout the season and it’s a battle he’ll lose if he doesn’t improve his three-point shooting at the very least. Bembry is a better and more athletic defender. So the only edge McCaw has on Bembry is his three-point shooting (McCaw shot 32.4 percent compared to Bembry’s 23.1 percent last year). And if those rates are the same moving forward, I rather have the better defender in Bembry.

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So expect a battle of the fittest between the two, because that’s what it’s going to come down to for McCaw.