Defensive goal: Take pride as the team’s “guard stopper”
Here’s the truth: Offensive stars get to take breaks on defense.
James Harden is a prime example. He can be a serviceable defensive player when he has a mind to be, but during his heyday as a sun of Houston’s heliocentric offense, he was given breaks on the defensive side of the court.
To a lesser degree, that was the case with Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Because of that offensive responsibility, Lowry’s backup in VanVleet was awarded the marquee matchup against the opponent’s top guard. Be it picking up Kemba Walker in the 2020 Celtics series, or Steph Curry in the Finals, VanVleet was all over him. That was his job.
Now that Lowry’s gone it’ll be time for VanVleet to step into his role as the primary team ball handler. So who will step into VanVleet’s shoes? You guessed it. Malachi Flynn.
Malachi Flynn could take a step forward on defense.
Flynn has the defensive chops to shut down opposing guards. He’s got a more traditional basketball frame, quick and lean with long arms and great defensive instincts. These helped Flynn average almost two steals a game at San Diego State.
Last season Flynn’s defensive chops were strong, but the one flaw that could be exposed was his size. He was good on D, but only unspecific matchups. This year shows signs of improvement. You may have noticed it some in Summer League, but reports state that Flynn has put on at least 15 pounds of muscle this offseason.
This will help him contend with larger, more athletic point guards. It didn’t matter how good his instincts were or how fast his hands, in his rookie year, Flynn was simply too inexperienced to match up with the Russell Westbrooks or John Walls of the world. Now, he’s got more of a chance.