It’s been a while since the Raptors have been here. Making their first selection in the top half of the draft since selecting OG Anunoby 23rd overall in 2017, Toronto went with point guard Malachi Flynn with the 29th overall pick. They also selected combo guard Jalen Harris out of Nevada with the 59th overall pick, who will likely bide his time with the Raptors 905.
Wearing an olive suit, white shirt, and silver tie—and watching from his parents’ home in Tacoma, WA, due to the COVID-19 pandemic—Flynn sat in the middle of a busy sectional sofa where he is the youngest of seven children, before adorning a Raptors draft hat and embracing a family full of joy after his name was announced as opposed to walking up to the NBA draft stage for a customary handshake with Adam Silver.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, Flynn starred at San Diego State last season after transferring from Washington State. He averaged 17.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.1 assists in 32 games and finished his college career shooting 36.3 per cent from 3-point range. Raptors GM Bobby Webster spoke with the media after the selection and seemed pretty pleased Flynn was still available to them that late in the first round.
“We actually recently went to see him in Las Vegas,” Webster said. “It was good to see him after a six-or-seven month layoff. Got a chance to speak to him. Spoke to him on Zoom earlier in the pandemic. Someone we felt very comfortable with, obviously, his character. Obviously, had a very successful season. Won a ton this year at San Diego State. Believe he was Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. A lot of the things that you guys know we like in our players, he checked a lot of those boxes.”
The 22-year-old is regarded as someone who is all about winning, has a high IQ for the game, and possesses a tremendous work ethic.
“I think it’s going to be great for me as a young guy coming into the league with two guys who have won a championship, who have put up great numbers, they’ve won."
For those wondering what drafting a point guard means for the future of unrestricted free agent Fred VanVleet, there’s no reason to worry. The Raptors have had a guard-heavy roster for several years now and bringing Flynn on board provides them someone who can bide his time and learn from Kyle Lowry and VanVleet—hould the former re-sign. If anything, the team has bought themselves some insurance for Terence Davis, whose future is in doubt as he faces charges of third-degree assault and criminal mischief. For his part, Flynn is excited to learn from, hopefully, both Toronto’s star guards.
“I think it’s going to be great for me as a young guy coming into the league with two guys who have won a championship, who have put up great numbers, they’ve won,” Flynn said. “There’s not much bad you can say about those two guys and they’re similar size to me so I think it’ll be great for me to just be around them every day and just be able to learn.”
How quickly Flynn is able to take the lessons he receives and puts them into practice will be interesting to see. This rookie season for any player selected in the 2020 NBA Draft will prove an immense challenge due to COVID-19, as there will be no Summer League to get his feet wet, training camp will begin in just a couple weeks, and the regular season to follow just three weeks after that. Add the fact that the Raptors don’t even know where they’re playing right now, Flynn will be in especially unfamiliar territory as everyone looks to adjust. With all that being said, Webster believes the Raptors have someone who is built to play in today’s NBA.
“He’s a modern NBA point guard,” Webster said. “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 three-ball well, obviously defends at a high level as well. I wouldn’t say he necessarily fits for our development system. He’s 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.”
Raptors moment of the night
ESPN’s TV presentation of the draft showed this hilarious picture of Malachi Flynn’s family:
What the experts said
ESPN had Flynn listed as the 11th-best guard available and ranked him 31st overall with size being a potential issue.
“Flynn was one of the best point guards in the college game… Flynn’s polish, IQ and perimeter shooting ability should allow him to compete for immediate playing time for the Raptors," said Jonathan Givony.
The Athletic’s John Hollinger had Flynn listed as a potential sleeper that would be a solid get in the 20s.
“Overall, I’m high on Flynn because I think the IQ and feel will win out, but I see the other side here: His athletic tools don’t scream upside and he could end up overmatched in 1-on-1 battles on defence,” he wrote.
It wasn’t a surprise to see Isaiah Thomas singing his praises as well, with Flynn being someone he’s known as a kid, and whose size is considered a potential issue.