After an incredible Rookie of the Month award-winning April for Malachi Flynn, the start to May has been a little more inconsistent from the Toronto Raptors’ rookie first-round pick.
It hasn’t been a total disaster by any means and he continues to hold his own defensively, but his offensive numbers have certainly dipped pretty significantly. He’s shooting just 32.7% from the floor and 30.8% from behind the arc through six games this month and his 6.8 points per game have been a little disappointing considering all the minutes he’s played. That being said, there are still signs of optimism from Flynn. Even when the 23-year-old’s shot isn’t dropping it’s clear he’s getting more accustomed to the NBA game.
Late in the second quarter of Tuesday night’s game he showed some of that veteran savviness he’s been learning over the course of the season. He showed off his Kyle Lowry-esque two-for-one skills, probing the defence with an eye on the clock before nailing a pull-up 3-pointer right in Nicolas Batum’s face.
On the subsequent possession, he showed that high-end defence, staying tight on Patrick Beverley before switching onto Kawhi Leonard and eventually picking off the pass.
Between the two-for-one setup and the interception on the defensive end, Flynn had just enough time to once again go at Batum for a last-second shot.
The final shot didn’t fall, but it was the right idea from Flynn, even if attacking the rim may have been a better option.
“That’s a good really good moment,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of the entire two-for-one sequence. “I think that all those areas are learning. He’s gone over some of the learning curve on some of this stuff. I think he’s become a much more confident play-caller.”
Nurse would still like to see a little bit more ball movement, especially in pick-and-roll situations. After being one of college basketball’s best pick-and-roll orchestrators last year, Flynn is still learning how to translate that part of his game to the NBA level.
“I think there’s tremendous growth he’s shown as a point guard,” Nurse said. “He hasn’t shot it like tremendously well in a stretch here but, you know, welcome to hitting the scouting report.”
That’s the push and pull of life in the NBA. Once a player like Flynn starts to show some growth other teams begin to take notice. With so many of his teammates out Tuesday night, Flynn spent most of his night defended by some of the NBA’s toughest defenders.
Even if the results weren’t particularly pretty against that lockdown group of defenders, the process certainly looked good for stretches and should leave Raptors fans with something to celebrate in an otherwise disappointing night.