For all the questions surrounding Malachi Flynn in the 2020 NBA Draft, it seemed one thing was for certain: The kid could shoot.
In Flynn's three collegiate seasons he shot 36.3% from behind the arc and was a mastermind orchestrator of the pick-and-roll. But then something seemed to change last year in his second season with the Toronto Raptors. Flynn couldn't find a grove. His shot wasn't falling. His defense tailed off. Even his G League outings left something to be desired. His confidence looked sapped.
It's too early to read too much into what this season may hold for the now 24-year-old third-year guard, but something appears to have clicked for Flynn, Raptors coach Nick Nurse told reporters in Victoria B.C. On the heels of an impressive summer that included dominant outings on the pro-am circuit, Flynn is looking more settled these days.
"I've noticed from him just in the times that we did see him this summer, is a guy carrying himself with a little more confidence. I think the way he played and scored in some of those leagues just gave him a feel and that's what summer league can do," Nurse said. "He was really outstanding today in practice, he was making shots and hitting floaters, and his team was having a lot of success out there today. So it was good, really good to see."
Nurse's message to Flynn has been clear throughout. He wants more grittiness from the 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard. He wants more pressure defenses, getting on the floor for loose balls, getting up in transition offensively, pushing the pace, and, of course, shot making.
"He’s going to have to be a shot maker like he comes off in a certain coverage and he’s open, he’s going to have to be able to knock them down," Nurse said of Flynn when last season ended. "I think that is one area he has to get better."
So far Flynn hasn't been able to do that. He's shot just 32.6% from three-point range through two seasons. For him, with his size and physical limitations, that's not good enough.
This season is going to be a make-or-break year for Flynn. At times he's shown glimpses of being a valuable rotation player. Other times, it hasn't been there at all. Entering Year 3, with newfound confidence, Flynn looks ready to finally find his footing.