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Svi Mykhailiuk – Season Review

An underwhelming season where a shooter's reputation wasn't met.

The following is part of Raptors Republic’s pieces reviewing the seasons for the Raptors. You can find all the pieces in the series here.

One of the few seasons on the Raptors that didn’t exceed expectations or go according to plan. Svi Mykhailiuk combined the worst shooting year of his career with an overall inability to gel in the Raptors free-flowing offense.

The expectations were high coming out of the pre-season. Mykhailiuk looked dynamic and aware on cuts, potent as a shooter, and explosive and coordinated as a finisher. Not to mention he was tough to move on defense which made up for some of the advantages he gave. He looked like an immediate contributor for this season’s Raptors and was given a lot of slack to try and fulfill that promise. Over the first 31 games of his Raptors career, he averaged roughly 19 minutes a game. Most notable among those performances were a few games against the likes of the Pacers, the Knicks, and the Wizards. Svi went for double digits, provided a little bit of playmaking punch on second-side actions, and was a positive overall. However, that went to the wayside as he started to struggle with reads and his jumper. His defense also underwhelmed tremendously.

The rest of the season only saw him appear in 25 games, averaging a paltry 5 minutes per outing. He fell out of the rotation completely after failing to provide any punch from downtown on a team that was starved for spacing and shot-making. He didn’t have a single game where he made more than 2 threes, and the compounding errors of his game led to countless record scratch moments that sapped all of the positives out of his game. One of the most explosive athletes on the Raptors suddenly couldn’t punch gaps with any danger, and the secondary playmaking became a non-starter. Once a player enters the desolate triangle of outcomes, there’s little hope to salvage good minutes. The desolate triangle? Missed shot – turnover – reset.

Simply put, a lot of the positive aspects of his game that were flashed in preseason, weren’t present in his regular season performances. Is this because he plays a fairly physical brand of basketball and that’s a bit more effective in the preseason? Is it because a player whose game revolves around the threat of shooting didn’t shoot well? Maybe a mix? Tough to say. He also had to navigate the politics and emotions of his home country having significant warfare dropped on their door step. It’s safe to say, though, that this writer’s early season prediction of what Mykhailiuk’s season would look like, was wrong:

“Every once in awhile a player falls to the wayside of minimum contract territory, despite possessing the talent – and ability to apply that talent in meaningful ways – to become a much higher earner in the NBA. When given the opportunity, those players turn teams into launchpads. Mykhailiuk is ready for launch. Not only does he have a claim to “nicest surprise”, but he’s looked like one of the best players on the floor every time he’s touched it. This year is a pitstop in minimum territory for him, and he’s going to punch way above his contract for the Raptors.”

As it turns out, this wasn’t a pit stop in minimum territory. The player option (1.9M) on Svi’s contract that I thought would be a formality for him to reject may actually end up being a lifeline. He’s guaranteed for one more season, and that means that the shooting, the athleticism, all of it can come around. Whether the Raptors try to make changes and move him off the squad, or bring him back and let him try to assert himself in the rotation once again – he’s got a shot.

So, the bad news? The things that were expected of Mykhailiuk didn’t go well at all. On a really shallow team, he fumbled away a few different chances at a spot in the rotation. The good news? Those latent abilities and somewhat proven abilities are still possibilities. Maybe there’s a Wayne Ellington-esque path back into a rotation if the shooting (especially movement shooting) comes around. Ellington was bounced around a few places before locking in as a valued specialist.

But, this is where we are with Svi. There’s very little to draw from and to count on as momentum. You just have to believe he’ll line up in the blocks again and get a great start next year. We’ll see.

Have a blessed day.