The Toronto Raptors have done a very nice job of adding contributors later in the NBA Draft over the years, but Malachi Flynn is coming dangerously close to bucking that trend. After two full seasons in Toronto, Flynn, who was picked right before Desmond Bane, is nowhere closer to asserting himself as a member of the rotation behind Fred VanVleet.
After ending the 2020-21 season in a very impressive fashion, Flynn saw his minutes (19.7 MPG vs. 12.2 MPG) and scoring (7.5 PPG vs. 4.3 PPG) decrease while his efficiency stayed nearly the same. Toronto has enough assets and financial flexibility to move off of Flynn and find a replacement.
The fact that Nick Nurse was willing to insert Dalano Banton and Armoni Brooks into the lineup ahead of Flynn while using Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes as a backup point guard shows that he lost confidence in the San Diego State product’s skills. Both VanVleet and Nick Nurse let him know that he is on shaky ground right now.
VanVleet did say that Flynn can play in this league, but he qualified that by saying that he is “not sure” how No. 22 fits with the roster going forward. Could this be a sign that Toronto is going to explore adding another point guard to either compete with or replace Flynn in the coming days?
Nick Nurse seemed to agree with VanVleet’s assessment. While he did say that Flynn can “help our team win” with his talents he challenged him to be a much more active defender while improving his ability to catch and shoot from 3-point range. Flynn has a ton of work to do in the offseason.
Fred VanVleet, Nick Nurse challenged Toronto Raptors PG Malachi Flynn.
On one hand, the Raptors play a style of basketball that is completely incongruous with Flynn’s physical frame. Lacking the VanVleet shooting touch or Kyle Lowry clutch gene, Flynn could be tossed aside in favor of a bigger guard with more defensive skill.
On the other, Flynn can still make plays as a ball-handler and distributor. His offense was clicking in his rookie year, so it wouldn’t be totally unprecedented if he figures out how to suddenly reassert himself as a key member of Toronto’s system.
These quotes should serve as a wake-up call to Flynn and his camp. They need to sell Masai Ujiri on his improved shooting and on-ball defense if Flynn wants to be guaranteed a third season in Toronto. Failure to do so will bring an end to his time north of the border in an abrupt fashion.