Malachi Flynn is “a serious kid. He’s professional. He’s about the hard work. He’s about winning,” were among the descriptors that Bobby Webster gave of Toronto’s newest addition. He’s an older prospect, at 22, which fits with Toronto’s perceived competitive advantages.
Flynn averaged 17.6 points, 5.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game in his senior year at San Diego State, all while shooting 37.3 percent from deep and 85.7 percent from the free throw line. His jumper projects especially well for the NBA, but so too does the rest of his game. Described as an elite pick-and-roll orchestrator, Flynn should eventually be able to run a good offense in the half-court, which was a weakness of Toronto’s this past playoffs.
“He’s a modern NBA point guard,” said Webster. “I think he can do it all on the offensive end. A lot of people are going to talk about pick-and-roll, shooting off the dribble, shoots the 3-ball well, obviously defends at a high level as well.”
To that point, Flynn won Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year for his conference, so he’s certainly not a one-dimensional player. He has a high steal rate and plays defense well within a system. He is on the smaller end, listed at six-foot-one and 185 pounds, but Raptors fans should well know that smaller players can still play elite defense.
It’s a question whether Flynn will have a rotation spot right out of the gate. Obviously Kyle Lowry has a claim to the lion’s share of minutes, and if VanVleet returns, so too will he continue to start and play 36+ minutes. To that end, Webster actually hinted that VanVleet could return, saying “[Flynn is] just a guy we really liked and can come in and play a little bit for us but also develop under the leadership of Kyle and Fred. Those are two good guys for him to learn under.” Note two good guys to learn under.
But the Raptors still employ Norman Powell and Terence Davis as well, not to mention guards Pat McCaw and Matt Thomas, who are jockeying for minutes. Flynn will not have an easy path to minutes, but all rookies need time to adjust to the NBA game, and he will be no different. Late-first round rookies rarely end up long-term contributors, so it would be best not to think of Flynn as a major piece for the upcoming year as much as a development piece for the future. Though the entire G League season is up in the air, due to the ongoing pandemic, Flynn could benefit from time with the Raptors 905 if given the opportunity.
Regardless of role in the upcoming year, it’s clear that the Toronto Raptors got their man. Webster said as much, and he seemed possibly surprised that Flynn was still available at 29.
“Ultimately we got the guy we wanted, so we feel lucky in that sense. But it was tough. Every pick would come in, and there would be some gasps and a little bit of disbelief. But you know, all along, Malachi was up there. And that’s who we wanted.”
Flynn has a perfect mentor in Lowry for his rookie year, and if VanVleet does return, the mentorship fit there will also fit well. Toronto has added a modern guard to its team, which is certainly something the team seems to possess in spades already, but is also a valuable tool no matter its abundance. Much more to come about Flynn as the NBA returns, but for now, get excited. Toronto snagged a two-way college star.