Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports
News broke Wednesday that Toronto Raptors’ rookie guard Malachi Flynn was being assigned to Raptors 905, Toronto’s G-League affiliate.
The move comes as the Raptors get set to embark on a six-game road trip, restricting practice time and reps for Flynn, who is still trying to make a strong impression on coach Nick Nurse and get stable rotation minutes. Flynn has appeared in 13 games so far this season, logging a career-high in minutes and 12 points in a 144-123 Toronto win.
The 2021 G-League season will take place in a bubble at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort close to Orlando Florida. Raptors 905 will participate in a 15-game schedule between Feb. 10 and Mar. 6, with the hopes to qualify as one of eight teams for the single-elimination playoff games.
Who is Malachi Flynn?
Flynn was the Raptors’ first-round pick of the 2020 NBA Draft. The 6’1 point-guard played his college career for Washington State and San Diego State, declaring for the draft after his junior year, when he averaged 17.6 points-per-game.
According to NBA Mock Draft, Flynn was projected to be a fringe first-round pick in a saturated prospect pool for point-guards. What made the 22-year-old a standout at his position was his ability to be a two-way force on the court. Flynn’s versatility and long arms means he’s capable of defending both guard positions and smaller wings; an important quality in today’s NBA.
On offense, Flynn has been described as a “fundamentally sound point-guard” who takes care of the ball and has good shot-selection. He’s an efficient shooter, scoring at an above average clip from deep (37.3%) in his last year in college.
Flynn’s weaknesses come in his size and athletic ability. His height at 6’1 is below-average at the point, and his unimpressive lateral quickness means that he might struggle to stay in-front of quicker ball-handlers. His finishing around the rim and on drives needs work as well, as he lacks a dynamic layup package and struggles to finish through contact, notably when challenged by bigger defenders.
Flynn’s skills and size are very similar to Toronto’s star guard duo in Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Despite their height – 6’0 for Lowry and 6’1 for VanVleet – the backcourt duo are valuable pieces on this Raptors squad on both ends of the floor. They are both excellent shooters from deep, are good at using their stocky frames to create space when they finish. They also add to their court value by showing reliable perimeter defence. Flynn has perfect examples of the player he can become right ahead of him, and adding some mass to his 175-pound frame could help him reach his potential.
The reps he’ll get with the Raptors 905, likely as the starting point-guard, should build his confidence and allow him to express his game freely on a stage with less pressure.
The Raptors 905 production line
The Raptors 905’s ability to develop Raptors’ prospects has been nothing short of remarkable over the last few years. Their roster features Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Chris Boucher, Stanley Johnson and Matt Thomas. Both Siakam and VanVleet featured in the 905’s championship winning squad in 2016-2017, along with former Raptors and current NBA players Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright. Chris Boucher won the G-League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 as a two-way player, to go along with his NBA championship ring.
The Raptors’ G-League affiliate not only develops regular NBA players; it develops stars as well. Late-round picks, like Siakam, and undrafted players like VanVleet are the bread and butter of the 905’s developmental successes. Malachi Flynn is an exciting addition to the team, and will hopefully be another solid NBA player to graduate from Toronto’s minor league system.
The G-League bubble and the super short season are certainly unique circumstances, and differ significantly from typical 905 operations, but if Flynn sticks around for the entirety of the 15-game regular season, and potential subsequent playoff rounds, this period will serve as a good exhibition of Flynn’s potential and value to the organization.