After turning heads with his play in the preseason, Toronto Raptors rookie guard Malachi Flynn is beginning to find his stride while on assignment with Raptors 905 at the NBA G League Bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, FL.
While two of his first three outings in the bubble were largely forgettable, Flynn exploded in his fourth game, finishing with 35 points (on 13-for-19 shooting) to go along with a game-high-tying eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals in 39 minutes of action.
The most impressive stat? He committed just one turnover.
As the numbers suggest, Flynn did a little bit of everything throughout the night – which the highlights do an even better job of illustrating.
Whether it was stepping up to hit a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer, making the right read from a pick-and-roll situation or displaying the defensive intangibles that resulted in him winning Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference, Flynn did all of the things that the Raptors franchise has come to expect from its lead guards.
Flynn, 22, has seemingly taken this G League assignment in stride, telling Blake Murphy of The Athletic that “having an opportunity to play a little bit more, I think it’ll be good, be able to make a couple more mistakes and just play.”
It helps that Flynn has a number of Toronto teammates that are walking testaments to the development that can come from G League assignments. Among them are Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, a trio that, according to Murphy, got a chance to break bread and share knowledge with Flynn prior to his assignment.
Pascal Siakam says him, Fred, and Norm had a “last supper” with Malachi Flynn before he left for the G Bubble to give him their perspective on the opportunity.
– Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) February 4, 2021
Powell, VanVleet and Siakam are just three members of an impressive list of Raptors 905 alumni that also includes current Raptors in Chris Boucher and Paul Watson, who I designated as the team’s next potential developmental diamond ahead of the 2020-21 season.
There are a few reasons Raptors 905 was named the G League Franchise of the Year for the 2019-20 season and a big one is sustained excellence. After Siakam was named G League Finals MVP in 2017, Raptors 905 had the league’s next two regular-season MVPs in Lorenzo Brown (2017-18) and Boucher (2018-19).
Now, Flynn takes the floor in a unique G League season alongside two other Raptors draft picks in Jalen Harris (No. 59, 2020) and Dewan Hernandez (No. 59, 2020) and has a chance to be the latest example of the success that comes via the 905 pathway.
The confidence that will come from Flynn’s ability to play freely during this time in the bubble will not only benefit him when he returns to Toronto this season but in the coming years when there will be a literal changing of the guard within the Raptors franchise.
When VanVleet becomes Toronto’s full-time starting point guard, the team will have already prepared his backup and the next heir apparent in Flynn, who is getting an early feel for what it is like to dominate within the Raptors system.
It’ll only get better from here.
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