Grading the Toronto Raptors signing of Svi Mykhailiuk

Photo credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors have been relatively quiet on the free agent market this offseason, with Sam Dekker and Ishmail Wainright being the two biggest signings to that point. Of course, we all know that their biggest move came in acquiring Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa, but as pure free agent additions? There wasn’t much to write home about.

Until now!

The Raptors reportedly added wing Svi Mykhailiuk to their roster on Saturday, bringing their roster total to the full 15 players allowed. The University of Kansas alum has carved out a decent career in his three seasons, and this will be his fourth team in four seasons.

There’s a lot to like about what Mykhailiuk can bring to the Raptors this upcoming season and his skill set can certainly help fill a role. Although the team was not in desperate need of a shooter, taking a flier on a prime-age player like Mykhailiuk can’t hurt at all.

Although financials weren’t specified, it’s hard to believe this would be for much more than the minimum, but there is a player option in the second year. It’s a bit surprising to see a player like Mykhailiuk get a player option but for such a low salary addition, there isn’t much to worry about. He either accepts it next year and you have a cheap shooter or he declines and gets a bigger contract elsewhere next offseason.

Let’s dive a little further into what Mykhailiuk can bring to the 2021-22 Toronto Raptors.

Svi Mykhailiuk’s fit with the Toronto Raptors

Although known for his shooting, Mykhailiuk has been relatively underwhelming as a 3 point shooter in his career. In college, Mykhailiuk shot 42.1 percent behind the arc (4.8 attempts per game) from his sophomore to senior seasons, so 110 games and 25.3 minutes per game. He was a lethal shooter and that’s what many expected him to be in the NBA.

Well, in his three seasons he’s a 36.2 percent 3 point shooter (4.2 attempts per game) and shot under 34 percent in his rookie season (32.6 percent) and this past season (33.4 percent). The only number that is buoying his career percentage is his second year where he looked a lot more like the Mykhailiuk that people expected him to be out of college, shooting 40.4 percent (5.1 attempts per game) in 56 games with the Detroit Pistons. Here’s a look at what he did during that season.

I’m not really sure what to make of this wild swing in percentages year-to-year from Mykhailiuk, but it’s certainly interesting. In 2020-21, Mykhailiuk shot 33.2 percent on catch-and-shoot 3 point looks but shot over 40 percent in 2019-20.

The biggest difference seems to be in his percentages on above-the-break triples in those two seasons. Last year, Mykhailiuk shot 30.9 percent on 230 above-the-break 3’s. In 2019-20, Mykhailiuk shot 39.5 percent on 215 above-the-break 3’s. So you better hope Mykhailiuk has his stroke from on those above-the-break 3’s!

He’s not really much of a ball-handler but can make some passes and keep the ball moving, something the Raptors have always valued. He’s not going to solve any issues with half-court self-creation but if he’s hitting his shots, then he can open up the floor and space it for Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby to get to the rim.

It will be interesting to see what kind of handoff plays and off-ball movement they can run for Mykhailiuk, who posted some solid efficiency stats with the Pistons in 2019-20 within those situations. He had 1.02 points per possession in handoff plays and 1.07 PPP in plays coming off screens. Those numbers obviously declined last year, but it all comes down to the shooting.

Final Grade

It’s really hard to grade this move because of how up-and-down Mykhailiuk has been in his career as a shooter, but there’s really not much risk — assuming it’s a low salary acquisition like we all assume. Again, the player option shouldn’t really be that much of a concern for anyone because of the low salary. It’s not as if that will cripple them financially next season if he picks up the option.

From an on-court standpoint, if he’s not hitting his 3’s then there really isn’t much of a purpose for him to be on the floor. Sure, he averaged over 10 points per game in 30 games with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he won’t be seeing a 21 percent usage rate with the Raptors (at least I’d sure hope not). He’s a solid enough passer and showed some midrange flashes with the Thunder, but he’s out there to shoot 3’s and if he’s not making them, I don’t think he’ll be seeing too much playing time under Nick Nurse.

However, it’s a flier worth taking on a guy who has pedigree as a knockdown shooter that can do more than Matt Thomas aside from shooting 3’s.

Raptors Insider Final Grade: B

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