Malachi Flynn Takes Over in Raptors 905 win over Warriors

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Photo by Raptors 905 / @raptors905

Final Score | Raptors 905 135, Santa Cruz Warriors 125 | Box Score

Two-Ways: Jalen Harris (905), Nico Mannion (Warriors)
Assignees: Malachi Flynn (905), Jordan Poole (Warriors)
Highly Notable Exhibit 10: Jeremy Lin (Warriors)

Both Raptors draft picks from 2020 had their best games as professionals, as the 905 got back to .500 (2-2) with a 10-point win over the Santa Cruz Warriors. Malachi Flynn scored a G League season-high 35 points, adding eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals. Raptors’ second round pick Jalen Harris put up 22 points and seven rebounds. Warriors assignee Jordan Poole led Santa Cruz with 32 points.

After the 905’s loss to the Ignite on Saturday, where the team shot 7-for-44 from three point range, Head Coach Patrick Mutombo characterized some of those shots as “rushed”, adding that when the game was in the balance, “we panicked a little bit, and we let the moment take us out of what we believe in and what we stand for.” While he didn’t mention Flynn by name, it’s reasonable to conclude that Mutombo was at least partially referring to his point guard, who shot 4-for-15 from the field, many of those attempts ill-advised.

On Monday, Flynn’s decision making on both ends was in the flow, revealing the tantalizing variety Raptors brass saw while he was winning Mountain West Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year at San Diego State. Offensively, Flynn attacked mismatches against Warriors bigs with impunity, creating scoring opportunities with crafty layups and runners in the paint, while shooting 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. Flynn also had a number sultry drive-and-kicks for open threes. He even grabbed a gritty three offensive rebounds. On defence, Flynn was a disruptive force, taking calculated risks by jumping passing lanes at ideal times.

“Flynn was getting some steals not from gambling, but from being in the right positions,” Coach Mutombo said post game. “You know the kid can score, but I thought on defence – impacting the direction of the ball – that side excites me. We’ll take the 35 points, don’t get me wrong, but I’m really excited for his defensive effort.”

Monday’s win was also the 905’s strongest team performance through four games in the Bubble. Before Monday the 905 were allowing a league-high 17 offensive rebounds per game. On Monday they allowed nine. The 905 also wilted amid third quarter surges by opponents in each of their previous two games. On Monday the 905 never relinquished the lead in the second half, opening up a 15 point cushion early in the fourth quarter then easing to the finish.

The 905 resume on Wednesday against the Agua Calliente Clippers with a brisk 11:30am tip.

Raptors 905 Notes:

  • Jalen Harris‘s ability to score at the rim is a known commodity, but like so many fringe NBA prospects, his ability to make the open three is not, which will be critical for him sticking in the League. On Monday Harris stuck his open shots, going 3-for-5 from three point range.
  • Gary Payton II has probably been the 905’s most consistent player thus far. On Monday Payton scored 13 points in his typical slithery-athletic fashion at the rim, adding seven rebounds and two steals. “If you’re a player who can force turnovers, I have a soft spot for you, because it takes toughness,” Coach Mutombo said of Payton’s impact. “It takes intensity and you can’t be casual and force turnovers. Now, the danger is some of those guys will gamble and make bad decisions because they trust their instincts so much. But listen, as long as you pressure the ball, you play hard compete and you think about being disruptive, I have you.”
    Coming in with 61 games of NBA experience, Payton has taken a leadership role with the team while happily coming off the bench. “It actually helps me a lot,” Payton said on Saturday, after posting a franchise record-tying seven steals in a loss to the Ignite. “I can see what the offence is doing. I just try to help out and when I get in there just make the little adjustments that I see on the court. I also just talk to my team and when that unit comes in, it just opens up the court for me just a little bit more.”
  • Nik Stauskas – 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 19 minutes may appear forgettable, but there was a lot to be encouraged about. The Mississauga-native didn’t force anything – shots or passes – as he scored eight points in the paint and committed no turnovers. He only went 1-for-4 from long range, putting him at 7-for-26 (27%) from three in the Bubble, but that is almost certainly going to improve, which will open up his burgeoning ability to attack closeouts, score inside, and create open shots for teammates.
  • I’m not sure what a 6’7 centre with spotty three point range is as an NBA prospect, but Alize Johnson was a beast inside, putting up 12 points and 13 rebounds for the 905. He also had a nifty Jokic-esque kickout to Harris for a big three early in the fourth quarter that propelled the 905 to an eight point lead.

Santa Cruz Warriors Notes:

  • It’s fun seeing Jeremy Lin (17 points, eight assists, two turnovers, and an unfortunate 1-for-6 from three point range.) out there. He was causing 905 guards fits early with crafty dribble penetration, but cooled off in the second half.  At 32 years old who knows if he gets another shot in the NBA, but averages of 17.8 points, 7.2 assists off 48% from the field and long range through four games in the G League Bubble should help his cause.