Fred VanVleet candidly speaks on Malachi Flynn's future with Raptors

May 1 2022, 4:31 pm

Point guard Malachi Flynn remains under contract with the Toronto Raptors…for now.

He’s heading into year three on his four-year rookie deal and is slated to make $2.1 million next season with the team.

But it’s hard not to wonder what’s next for the Raptors’ 2020 first round draft pick.

Flynn took a step back in his second year in the league: playing fewer minutes, starting fewer games, and scoring fewer points, assists, and rebounds than he did in year one.

Much of those reduced stats were largely due to opportunity and health (of his teammates), but the trust from his coaching staff clearly wasn’t quite there.

Even with starting point guard Fred VanVleet missing extended stretches of the season, Flynn played more than 20 minutes in a game just 10 times this season. Flynn then was hit with his own hamstring injury in March, only making matters worse.

Asked for advice for his teammates who struggled to crack the regular rotation at Friday’s media availability, VanVleet touched on his own experiences being further down the Raptors’ bench in his first two seasons.

“That’s when you’ve got to be the craziest, when you know you’re not playing and when you’re gonna try to go prove it,” VanVleet said. “They don’t get much time off and get right back in the lab, for the guys going to Summer League. They should be ramping up to get ready to go to Summer League and make a mark and make that jump.”

NBA Summer League is set for July 7-17 in Las Vegas, showcasing younger talents on the league’s 30 rosters as well as unsigned roster invites. Flynn has been there each of the last two seasons, though most third-year players like to avoid the opportunity if they can.

“That was my mindset as a young player was proving that I should have been playing proving that I need to be playing [regular NBA minutes],” VanVleet added. “If I go to Summer League, I [want to prove I] don’t belong here. I shouldn’t have [to be here, I’m] too good to play here. That’s the mindset. You’ve got to just try to rise above that and stay confident and just continue to work and get better.”

VanVleet and Flynn played just 70 minutes on the court together, spread across 16 games. 86% of Flynn’s minutes were spent without VanVleet on the floor.

The Raptors initially drafted Malachi Flynn in 2020 out of San Diego State, picking him with the 29th overall pick. His best stretch this season came in a four-game run in late February/early March, starting all four games while VanVleet was sidelined. Over that stretch, he averaged 16.0 points and 5.5 assists while shooting 57% from the field.

“I think he showed it in the week or whatever he played,” VanVleet said. “Malachi can play. I think there’s no question about that. How that fits with us and what we’re doing going forward, I’m not sure. But I think he’s a heck of a player. He’s got great potential.”

In many ways, a Malachi Flynn trade to a new market wouldn’t be all that surprising. But whether it’s in Toronto or elsewhere, VanVleet believes there’s quite a skillset to be unlocked.

“He can shoot, score and plays really well in ball screens, he can defend. So he’ll hopefully have some more opportunity going forward. And I know that when he gets his chance as he plays extended minutes he plays well. How do you crack that? How do you get into that rotation? I think that’s the challenge he has to overcome.”

NBA Summer League is just 67 days away. Start the countdown to see if Flynn will be on that roster.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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