If the Toronto Raptors have a competitive edge over the rest of the NBA it's certainly in scouting and player development. Few teams in the league have been able to churn out talent as consistently as Toronto and a lot of that has to do with the way the organization assesses prospects.
When deciding between two equally talented players, the Raptors will go with the player that fits their system, said Patrick Engelbrecht, the director of global scouting and international affairs for the team. It's made easier by the fact that the Raptors have an identity these days and a system devised by one of the best coaches in the NBA, Nick Nurse.
That's why San Diego State's 6-foot-1, 185-pound guard Malachi Flynn is such an interesting prospect for the Raptors. The 22-year-old Flynn — who has reportedly worked out for Toronto — would fit seamlessly into the Raptors' system.
"I think Toronto would be a great fit for a guy like him," said SDSU assistant coach Chris Acker. "He's a blue-collar guy, so like I said, I think people are gonna really really fall in love with him."
After two years at Washington State, Flynn transferred to SDSU and played 32 games for the Aztecs last season. He was the lead guard in SDSU's three-guard system, averaging a team-leading 17.6 points on 44% shooting and 37.3% 3-point shooting with 5.1 assists.
"The ball was in his hands 90% of the time and for him, it was just about making the right play and the right read," Acker said. "He began to evolve into that guy that would always make the right decision."
Off the ball, Flynn is still a dynamic scorer, Acker said. He can score from anywhere on the court and averaged 2.4 3-pointers a game on 6.4 attempts.
Then there's the other side of the floor where Flynn flourishes too. Despite his slight frame, he earned the Mountain West's Defensive Player of the Year award.
"Malachi is the kind of guy who could have averaged 30 points a game in college," Acker said. "So the fact that he understood that making others better on the court and that he needed to make winning plays for us to be successful and then the willingness to lock in on scouting reports and lock in on utilizing his quickness and his God-given talents to really cause havoc on the defensive end, I think was just unbelievable to watch him do that last year."
The Raptors have had success in the past with older prospects like Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell, and Flynn certainly fits that mold as someone who will come in working relentlessly to get better, Acker said.
"What separates Malachi again, similar to Fred [VanVleet,] is a competitive spirit and just his ability to understand the game and what makes him successful," Acker said.
Flynn is projected to be slightly outside the Raptors' range, going 23rd overall to the Utah Jazz in Sports Illustrated's latest mock draft, but if he falls a little, he certainly fits the bill as someone who could flourish in Toronto's system.