It does not seem like that long ago there was hope and expectation that Toronto Raptors draft pick Malachi Flynn would be the backup to Kyle Lowry’s heir apparent Fred VanVleet Drafted 29th overall at the 2020 NBA Draft, Flynn was hailed as a pick and roll specialist with the ability to fill up the stat sheet.
Two years into his fledgling career, there have been glimpses of what he could become but nothing sustained. A week into this 2022 off-season, it has become crystal clear Flynn does not figure into the Raptors’ future plans.
First, management agreed to terms with returning free agents Thad Young and Chris Boucher who represent a prototypical player style the Raptors covet. Then, they brought in a sharpshooting long-range specialist in that prototypical mold who recently won a championship with the Golden State Warriors in Otto Porter Jr.
The top 10 rotation spots seem to be set, and the only players six foot five inches and under are VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. There is plenty of length and size on the bench waiting to be unleashed on opponents now with everybody capable of defending multiple positions on the floor.
Hopefully, Porter can remain a deadeye on 3-ball attempts, as he is 40% on his career from distance. Considering also that Nick Nurse predominantly played 7-8 guys either by design or necessity in 2022, Flynn might be an afterthought unless injuries deplete the team’s depth and make him relevant again.
Flynn’s hold on a roster spot is further threatened by the drafting of seven-footer Christian Koloko. While Koloko is not a guard he is the only “rim threat” on the roster who the Raptors desperately need to develop to help against larger centers like Philly’s Joel Embiid.
Why Malachi Flynn is out of the Toronto Raptors’ rotation
Flynn has found himself in this spot due to erratic play. In his two NBA seasons, he has failed to sustain any stretch of consistency or find a niche skill that the team lacks that he can shore up. Flynn went from playing 19.7 minutes per game in 2021 to 12.2 in 2022. He has also only played in 91 games to date.
Between February 28-March 4 Flynn had a pretty good week, culminating in a game against Brooklyn in which he was a +42, scored 18 points, and dished out five assists. However, an injury derailed his momentum and he was relegated back to inactive duty until the final four games of the season.
He also saw limited action during the playoff series against the 76ers except for game two when he played 21 minutes.
Ultimately, regardless of Masai Ujiri’s endorsement of the young guard back in February, Nurse makes the decisions on who plays and who doesn’t. Is Flynn’s uninspired play his fault or the coach’s for not letting him play through the struggles?
With rumors abounding that the Raptors will extend VanVleet’s contract to the tune of $110 million, it became evident in 2022 that Toronto needs a reliable backup to their diminutive starting point guard due to knee injuries. Flynn does not appear to be ready to claim that role.
What happens next with Malachi Flynn?
Flynn does not have many options at this stage. He needs to outplay a number of players on the roster to move up the depth chart by making his shots. He can hope or ask for a fresh start on a young team that may give him the playing time to develop.
What is clear is that he will not be in Nurse’s main rotation when the 2022-23 season starts.