Malachi Flynn’s last supper with the Toronto Raptors was spent in pretty good company.
It’s hard for the Raptors 2020 first-round pick to get too down about his G League assignment when he looks around the table and sees Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Norman Powell surrounding him. On other teams, being sent to the G League might be seen as a punishment. It’s essentially a demotion to the minor leagues where almost everything is the second rate compared to NBA life. With the Raptors, however, a few weeks with the Raptors 905 is almost a rite of passage.
“I think when you get drafted in the first round and all that you want to be out there, playing in the league,” said Siakam, the Raptors’ 2016 first-round pick who played in five G League games in 2016-17. “Being sent to the G League can feel like you’re going backwards but you can’t have that mentality.”
Just like Flynn, Siakam was a late first-round pick who excited the fanbase right off the bat. He started in the first 34 games for the Raptors that season, then, as his minutes began to dwindle, Toronto sent him to the G League to join the 905.
The number of developmental success stories the 905 has churned out is mind-boggling. From Siakam to VanVleet, to Powell, and Chris Boucher, the 905 has become a pitstop for Raptors players along the journey back up to Toronto. For Flynn, it’ll be an opportunity to get significant playing time and work on improving his still developing game.
“I think we know he can score, I just think that playing all facets, upping the defence intensity up the floor, finding his teammates out of the pick and roll, hitting the roller, getting it out, running the team, all those kinds of things,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Flynn’s assignment.
With Powell back healthy and VanVleet and Kyle Lowry playing at an all-star level, there wasn’t going to be very many minutes for Flynn to see the court. Now, instead of languishing away on the bench, he’ll hope to follow all the Raptors who have come before him and make the most of his brief 905 trip.