There’s no way to sugarcoat this season for Malachi Flynn.
After bursting onto the scene with Rookie of the Month honors last April, the former first-round pick has seemingly fallen off the face of the earth for the Toronto Raptors. He’s been out of the rotation since the start of the year and neither his NBA play nor his G League play has warranted a second look. He’s shooting 27.7% from three-point range with the Raptors this season and 25% from behind the arc in four G League games.
With Fred VanVleet out of the lineup Tuesday night, Flynn had a chance to do two things: Show that he deserves a second look in the rotation and vent about his season. On both accounts, he impressed.
He played 26 minutes against the Charlotte Hornets, shot 4-for-7 from the field, and, despite a handful of mistakes, he was solid. He ran the floor in transition to hook up for a 2-on-1 layup with OG Anunoby, he nailed a three-pointer, forced a turnover, and got to the rim a couple of times for 11 points off the bench.
“I thought they both looked like the trip to Mississauga helped them both from a confidence standpoint,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Dalano Banton and Flynn. “I thought they both fought hard, handled the ball well, made plays, made shots to spark us, too. They were both really good.”
After the game, Flynn was given the opportunity to discuss his season. His father, Eric, had been outspoken on Facebook about his frustration with Nurse and the Raptors. Flynn could have taken the same route, but he didn’t.
“I think we’ve been doing good as a team, I’m not gonna sit here and talk about me individually,” he said when asked how he’s felt about his season. “I think we’ve been doing well, especially these past couple weeks, had some really good wins, couple tough losses, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Flynn’s fit within the organization still seems awkward. He’s a traditional point guard on a team that’s moving away from the traditional. Nurse wants to see him play up-tempo and aggressive basketball and that hasn’t been Flynn’s game.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if his Raptors tenure came to an end at the trade deadline next month. If it does, Tuesday showed that the 23-year-old has the composure to not only step up when his number is called, but the poise to stay calm despite what must be a frustrating season.