There's a certain poise that Malachi Flynn appears to be playing with these days.
Coming out of San Diego State it was clear Flynn had the tools to be an offensive maestro. He was one of the best pick-and-roll orchestrators in all of college hoops and his basketball IQ clearly won the Toronto Raptors over in the 2020 NBA Draft. But at times last year, those skills seemed to disappear. He looked hesitant as a playmaker, unwilling to attack inside, and create for others with assertiveness.
Three months after Flynn last stepped on an NBA court with the Raptors, the 23-year-old seems to have a newfound confidence. There's an ease with which he appears to be playing with at Summer League.
"He don’t really get sped up," Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes said of Flynn. "He’s tough as hell. He gets buckets, makes good reads on the floor. Watch him play, it’s just a great thing to see."
Flynn is one of just two returning Raptors on Toronto's 2021 Summer League squad. Despite only being in his sophomore season, he's the veteran of the group and it's clear he's comfortable in that spot.
"I know one thing, that he’s been taught well," said Raptors Summer League coach Patrick Mutumbo referring to Flynn's time studying under Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry. "He’s seen those guys approaching that job and that responsibility and he’s trying to do that."
On Saturday, Flynn looked at ease directing Toronto's offense against the New York Knicks. He repeatedly ran pick-and-rolls with Freddie Gillespie, using the 6-foot-9 big man as the roller either to sneak passes inside or find kick-out opportunities for corner shooters. When others weren't finishing on his nifty inside passes, he decided to call his own number for buckets. This time, however, instead settled for outside jumpers like he did last season, Flynn looked comfortable attacking inside, going at his defender and rising up the moment he saw even the slightest opening.
"Obviously, he’s grown," said Mutumbo who also coached Flynn briefly with the Raptors 905 last season. "He shows his talent, what he can do with the ball getting into the paint, finding people, but also shooting, but also defensively, he’s still improving his defense and his willingness to get into people. He’s getting better, he’s getting better, and it’s exciting to see. He’s going to be a really good player for our program."
It's still very early in Flynn's sophomore season and considering how well he played in last year's preseason it would be foolish to read too much into his development, but that confidence is a good sign from the young point guard. If he can carry it over from an impressive end to his 2020-21 campaign, the Raptors may have found another young point guard to carry forward Lowry and VanVleet's legacy for many years to come.