clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2020 NBA Draft Coverage: Malachi Flynn, San Diego State

New, comments

Dynamic pick and roll playmaker with a good shooting stroke

NCAA Basketball: Mountain West Conference Tournament- Utah State vs San Diego State Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Malachi Flynn won both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the Mountain West Conference for the 2019-20 season, and was also a finalist for the Wooden Award. After two years at Washington State, Flynn transferred to San Diego State and put up a stellar season for the Aztecs.

Stats

Per game: 17.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.1 blocks, 1.8 turnovers, 44/37/86 shooting splits

Advanced: 58.3% True Shooting, 11.7 Box Plus-Minus (7.6 offensive, 4.1 defensive), .278 Win Shares per 40

Physical: 22 years old, 6’1” with a 6’3” wingspan, 185 pounds

Strengths

Flynn is a floor general with the ball in his hands. Lethal as both a scorer and passer out of the pick and roll, he led the Aztecs to an impressive 30-2 record during the 2019-20 season. His overall offense ranked in the 92nd percentile, per Synergy, at an impressive 1.05 points per possession.

Out of the pick and roll, Flynn scored 1.06 points per possession, good for the 96th (!!) percentile on high volume (40% of his offensive possessions were PnR sets), and he boasts an assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 3:1.

Flynn posted solid percentages from the 3-point line and free throw line, and projects as a good 3-point shooter at the next level. He torched defenses as a spot-up shooter to the tune of 1.09 points per possession (86th percentile), and in 2019-20, he hit 35 threes from 25+ feet and was 7-of-16 beyond 28 feet. He definitely has NBA range.

Although he lacks elite size for his position, he was an efficient finisher in the paint. His half-court rim finishing ranked in the 74th percentile among college players, and he also has an effective floater in his arsenal. At his size, this speaks volumes about his craftiness, touch, and basketball IQ.

Efficiency. Everywhere on the court, Flynn was an effective scorer and shooter. Take a look at this shot chart:

That’s a lot of red and orange. Flynn takes smart shots and rarely forces the issue as a shooter/scorer. That’s definitely a “moneyball” shot chart.

Weaknesses

As a 22-year old junior (he sat out the 2018-19 season after transferring from Washington State), Flynn is already older than a lot of current NBA players. This limits his upside as a prospect, as he’s already pretty close to his prime and likely won’t make any significant improvements to his game.

Flynn’s lack of height and wingspan could cause issues for him at the next level. His 6’1” frame and below-average wingspan and standing reach will limit his potential on defense and could cause issues finishing inside the paint against bigger defenders. Contested shots will also be more difficult for him, as NBA players are longer, quicker, and contest shots more effectively than the competition he faced at the college level.

While Flynn may have a relatively high floor because of his court vision, skill set, and smooth shot mechanics, his lack of elite physical measurements or athleticism severely limit his ceiling at the next level. NBA teams traditionally favor high-upside players, and Flynn simply doesn’t check that box.

Despite being named the Defensive Player of the Year in his conference, it’s unlikely that his defense translates well to the next level due to the previously mentioned size/wingspan/athleticism issues. At best, he’s probably a break-even player on the defensive side of the ball as a bench player, and likely a negative defender against starters.

Jazz Fit

Flynn’s most natural role at the NBA level will be as a bench point guard. Utah’s bench production has been a bit lacking in recent years, ranking in the bottom half of the league in most major bench categories for the past few seasons. Flynn is the type of player who could handle lead guard duties for a 2nd unit, playing smart, sound basketball while limiting mistakes, and the Jazz have plenty of shooters for Flynn to kick the ball to out of pick and roll action.

The fit is pretty good here, and the team will eventually need a replacement for Jordan Clarkson (whether this season or down the road). As a team-first player, Flynn will likely understand his role at the NBA level and should perform admirably within that role. His high basketball IQ, leadership, and motor are all things that the Jazz have historically coveted in prospects.

Draft projection

Malachi Flynn is currently projected as a late first or early second round pick. It might be a bit of a reach to take him at #23 (the highest projection I could find was 29th overall), but given the wealth of role players available in this draft, there are around 20 players that are all pretty closely grouped together in the 20-40 range. Could be a lot of surprises come draft night.

Player comps

Patty Mills, Trey Burke, Fred VanVleet, T.J. McConnell with a 3-point shot