The Toronto Raptors appear to be embracing the tank this season, as one of the changes they are making during the second half of the season is letting first-round pick Malachi Flynn get NBA minutes this season with the hope of finding out if he is worth building around.
Flynn, picked 29th overall out of San Diego State, was expected to immediately cement himself as the backup to Kyle Lowry and a potential candidate to take over that coveted starting role in the future. Instead, he has averaged just 2.3 points and 1.3 assists per game, all the while shooting 27% from the field and 17% from 3-point range.
His percentages over the last eight games tell almost the exact same story.
Nick Nurse claimed that in an ideal season, Flynn would’ve played almost the entire season in the G League rather than the six games he ended up playing. While Flynn looks a bit overmatched by the strength and speed of the game, his potential as a two-way point guard is intriguing.
Unfortunately, Flynn faces the potential of being replaced after just one season, as this is a draft class rich in point guards. For someone who is already older than Gary Trent Jr., Flynn will need to show during this brief stint without Lowry, who is sitting out due to a foot infection, that he is worth keeping for the long haul.
Toronto Raptors: Malachi Flynn could turn himself around
Flynn is in an almost impossible situation, as he is a rookie that needed stability and G League time to develop. Instead, he’s arrived on a Toronto-based team playing in Florida during a pandemic, played in only a handful of G League games, and had to deal with his own health and safety protocol mess.
Those are not ideal circumstances, but his play on the court has been well below average. Flynn has looked more confident as a passer and defender, but his shot still isn’t falling. With his scoring a huge reason as to why he was named Mountain West Player of the Year, this has to be hard for Masai Ujiri to watch.
For a player with as much experience at the collegiate level as he does, coming in and shooting THIS poorly has to raise some red flags.
Flynn has shown that he can play some tough perimeter defense, avoid tons of costly turnovers, and make some sharp passes. Having said that, his shot is missing at a frankly painful clip, and moving off of him after just one year is a very real possibility.
Flynn could sate all of those doubters if he balls out during this Lowry-less stretch. He might even solidify himself as the backup point guard if he really gets hot. Failure, however, could be catastrophic for his NBA future.