Where do the Raptors and Malachi Flynn go from here?
Imman Adan and Asad Alvi assess the strengths and weaknesses of Malachi Flynn and if he can become the point guard the Raptors require off the bench. Listen to the full podcast on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed, where we hand out grades to each bench player.
ASAD ALVI: --when he gets, like, 25-plus minutes, where he can work through mistakes. The fact of the matter is, Malachi Flynn is not a good enough player to be playing 25 minutes on any team that wants to win anything. He just frankly isn't a good enough player. You can't give someone with his significant flaws--
What we saw this season was any time Malachi Flynn subbed out, by midway through the season, coaches had figured out, hey, if Malachi's on the floor--
IMMAN ADAN: Attack him.
ASAD ALVI: --just attack him, where you just force switch, switch, switch, get him at the top of the key. And you have James Harden attacking him. You have any wing that can dribble the ball getting a Malachi Flynn switch and walking through him. And that's something that, like, in his first season, I thought he was actually pretty good defensively, containing people.
And then looking at it now, like, this season, he struggled containing anybody, really, defensively. Like, he can kind of stay in front of you. But people just realized they can just go through him. So he doesn't actually put any resistance up, which is really tough to do.
So if he's not-- he is truly a defensive liability, then you have to ask yourself, well, what does he do offensively? And if the only good thing that he's shown offensively is to hit catch-and-shoot 3's, that is such a one-dimensional--
IMMAN ADAN: I haven't dug into his pull-up numbers.
ASAD ALVI: His pull-up numbers are not good. They are no bueno. He is not a good pull-up shooter.
IMMAN ADAN: OK.
ASAD ALVI: And especially one of the biggest things is-- one of the biggest pieces of his shot diet is pull-up mid-rangers. And he takes them with, like, 14, 15 seconds left on the clock, which again, if it was say a Gary Trent, Jr., or a shooting guard doing that, it's like, OK, that's fine. But when you're the point guard, and you're the one who is going to create something in a play, you cannot be taking a shot that you don't hit.
Malachi Flynn simply does not hit mid-range shots. Like, he struggled to hit them this season, last season, his first season in Tampa. He's a very bad mid-range shooter. I don't remember the numbers off-hand, but he is, like, below 25% on mid-range jumpers.
And he pulls up on a lot of them. And he does not hit any pull-ups. Like, he's under 20% on pull-up mid-rangers. So I found that the only jumpers he's good at hitting are step-backs because he's able to get his feet set.
And then a lot of times when you watch him, even in the pick and roll, like, they gave him Christian Koloko in the back half of the season, where he got to play a little bit more minutes with a Jakob Poeltl and a Koloko in pick and roll. Like, he still struggled as a pick and roll creator, where you saw Fred VanVleet succeed as a pick and roll creator.
And you can talk about chemistry needing to be developed or whatever. But Malachi Flynn, the biggest part of his game was being a pick and roll creator. And he just struggles with size in the NBA.
He's scared of the guy coming behind him and blocking him from behind, so he rushes. And he's scared of dribbling too far into the paint because he also doesn't have the best handle. Like, he has small hands, at the end of the day. So he has to kind of cradle the ball a lot and go left right a lot. And that's a struggle.
I just don't-- I don't see a clear path to Malachi Flynn having--
IMMAN ADAN: Oof.
ASAD ALVI: --major minutes on a good team unless he significantly improves. Like, he has to actually shoot the ball better. Like, if he does have a-- like, he's able to get to that pull-up middy, great. But you've got to at least get to, like, a 40% clip on that to be even respectable. Like, you have to at least, as a point guard, play out the possession a little bit more.
I think in college, he was a scoring guard. Like, he was a pick and roll point guard, but he a scoring combo guard. And you're kind of seeing that he just doesn't go quick enough. Like, his pace is slower. His processing of reads is a lot slower than it needs to be.
And it takes him a long time to get in the games. And as a bench player, you have to be able to find a way to impact the game a little bit faster than that.
IMMAN ADAN: So if you had to give him a letter grade, what grade would you give to Malachi?
- I'll give him a C-minus. Like, great that he--
IMMAN ADAN: I was thinking you would go lower.
ASAD ALVI: The thing is, I didn't have much expectation from him. But can he start and be, like, a safe option as a point guard in your starting lineup if Fred's out? Sure. I think the Raptors chose just not to go with Malachi Flynn as the starting point guard, even when Fred was out a lot of the times. But he can give you 20, 30 minutes, and you can kind of maybe survive it.
IMMAN ADAN: Well, the idea was to develop Scottie. I guess-- OK, so here's my question to you.
ASAD ALVI: Yep.
IMMAN ADAN: So you're saying give him a C-minus. Do you think he can start-- I don't know about that.
ASAD ALVI: Well, no, I don't think he can start. Like, his--
IMMAN ADAN: In, like, spot-- in, like, spot games.
ASAD ALVI: --his best ability as a point guard is that--
IMMAN ADAN: Availability.
ASAD ALVI: --he can bring the ball up and pass it to a good player--
IMMAN ADAN: No!
ASAD ALVI: --and then stand off-ball.
IMMAN ADAN: I don't like that you said that because you know that I'm gearing up to get into Dalano Banton right after talking about Malachi Flynn. But I want to focus-- [LAUGHS] I want to focus on-- can bring the ball up.
ASAD ALVI: Honestly, let's just give Malachi a D-plus.
IMMAN ADAN: You cannot say--
ASAD ALVI: Because, like, I don't think-- I think I have to give-- honestly, I don't even know what I'd give Dalano. But, like, let's just give Malachi a D-plus.
IMMAN ADAN: You cannot say if I have to give credit to this point guard, he can bring the ball up the court. That-- they're NBA players, OK? They're in the NBA.
But no, I think with Malachi, it's not that I just want to leave things on a positive note. But like I said, these are NBA players. Like, nobody's calling these guys not good, right? I know there's, like, they're bums.
No, they're NBA players. They're in the NBA for a reason. They're at a class and at a level that the rest of us can't even really fathom. And that requires a lot of work, and it requires a lot of getting better.
And so I think we can hope for Malachi Flynn to improve next year in order to not get, one, attacked relentlessly on the defensive end, because I noticed that as well, and two, figure out his fit in terms of this Raptors offense. And his shooting, I think is going to be really necessary for this team because this team lacks a lot of catch-and-shoot guys. And I think that, like--
I'm trying to picture his pull-up 3's. I feel like he should be able to knock them down better.
ASAD ALVI: Yeah, but he doesn't. He's just not a good pull-up 3-point shooter. He is--
IMMAN ADAN: It's not like he does it, and you're like, ooh, that's ugly.
ASAD ALVI: --like, he's near 40% or maybe at 40% catch-and-shoot. But he is, like--
IMMAN ADAN: Which is fair.
ASAD ALVI: --but like, he takes a lot above the break 3's. And he takes them from distance. Like, he doesn't take them at the line. He takes them two or three feet behind, so--
IMMAN ADAN: OK, so here's my question--
ASAD ALVI: And he misses almost all of them.
IMMAN ADAN: [LAUGHS] Here's my question-- in order for-- I'm Malachi Flynn. I'm Malachi Flynn's father, [INAUDIBLE]. I'm coming to you and saying, what can my son do to get a better grade next year, oh, teacher, you?
ASAD ALVI: He either needs to be a better shooter or be a better point guard. Like, if he can actually play create for people, then it'd be great. Like, he realistically needs to be able to find a way to consistently touch the paint.
And this is something Nick Nurse has said a few times about him. When Malachi is able to touch the paint and then get the ball out, which is something-- like, people can harp on Fred VanVleet all they want. But what Fred VanVleet does on this team that almost-- very few other players do is someone who gets downhill, touches the paint, and then gets the ball out.
IMMAN ADAN: Paint touches are important, for sure.
ASAD ALVI: You need to have some sort of drive and kick element in your game. And Malachi Flynn just failed to do a lot of drive and kick, where he would, like, beat his first man off the dribble, and then just pull up for a mid-ranger.
IMMAN ADAN: Do you think he lacks the size?
ASAD ALVI: I think he's just scared. I don't think his handle's good enough, and--
IMMAN ADAN: Do you think that's, like, a size thing? Like, obviously, a Fred VanVleet is not a particularly tall guy, but Fred VanVleet's a stocky guy.
ASAD ALVI: There's evidence of him being able to do it, but he just doesn't do it enough. And he's not aggressive enough. I think he gets caught up in two minds. And it's just like you have to kind of better understand what your role is.
You're not just-- like, when you go out there, you can't just be a stand in the corner, stand in the wing, catch-and-shoot guy. Like, you've got to-- like, how do you help the other players on the team? Because the rest of the bench is going to be guys who need someone to create for them.
And if the creation is always-- like, if Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes are playing with the bench unit, but they have to create all the shots for the bench unit and then create shots for themselves, that's very difficult. Like, you have a bench point guard come in like a Tyus Jones, and that's like-- that would be, like, if Malachi Flynn was at his absolute--