The Toronto Raptors’ Summer League journey has officially concluded. A time usually reserved for a team to give their rookie and sophomore players more minutes, the Raptors had an especially impactful Vegas roster this year, as they were testing out three new rookies.
One of those rookies was No. 4 overall pick Scottie Barnes, who teamed with a sophomore point guard that is about to be given a lot more responsibility as a ball-handler off the bench in Malachi Flynn and new addition Precious Achiuwa.
The Raptors went 4-1 in Summer League play, including some wins over Eastern Conference foes like the Nets, Knicks, and Hornets. The team’s stifling defense, a product of their length and switchability, helped in that regard.
Now that the Summer League play is behind us, what has it taught us about this latest generation of Raptors and their readiness for the big stage? Who proved themselves? Who disappointed? Who flashed star potential? And what happened in-game that is set to impact the regular season.
2 positives and 2 negatives from the Toronto Raptors’ Summer League stint
Positive No. 1: Malachi Flynn looks dangerous.
By far, the most momentous transaction this offseason was the departure of Lowry from the Raptors. Nine years with the team and six All-Star appearances have meant two things: the expectation of team success, and strength at the point guard position.
Now that he’s gone, guard depth becomes a little more complicated. Fred VanVleet has proven himself to be a near-All-Star level scorer at guard, but it’s always come with the knowledge that he was behind Lowry in the pecking order.
This season will be a big test to see if Fred can fully step into the sun as the team’s lead ball-handler, and similarly, Flynn will be asked to step up as a reliable second option.
Flynn had to occasionally shoulder this kind of responsibility during his rookie year, but it was always due to an injury to either Lowry or VanVleet. Never before has Flynn been asked to be the chief playmaker off the bench for 82 games.
But if the last few weeks were any indication, Flynn is set to fit in just fine.
Malachi Flynn is looking more aggressive for the Raptors.
As the only true point guard on the squad, he carried no shortage of ball-handling responsibility with the Raptors’ Vegas team, averaging 16.8 points a game and shooting 41.4% from three to go along with 1.5 steals.
Even more than the numbers though, Flynn controlled the game. He was so much more relaxed and balanced than everyone else out there that even his missed shots were promises of good things to come. It may just be Summer League, but the kinds of things he was asked to do out there should try to be replicated once the regular season hits.
Now, Summer League has been known to favor ball-handling guards and sophomores. Flynn is both, so while his on-court and statistical dominance in Vegas was promising, let’s not dislocate our arms patting him on the back.
All I’ll say is that I have confidence in Flynn as the team’s backup point guard this year.