The Raptors still believe in Malachi Flynn

Amit Mann & Katie Heindl discuss how Masai Ujri and Nick Nurse showed they still have faith in Malachi Flynn during their end-of-season media availabilities. Also, why Toronto is putting an emphasis on internal growth to fix roster issues. Listen to the full episode on takeaways from Ujiri and Nurse's media availabilities on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: On this development side of things, they addressed Malachi Flynn, a player who I think a lot of people felt like didn't really get a fair shot this season.

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm.

AMIT MANN: And Nick Nurse, Masai both talked about him to a degree. Actually, the way Masai brought it up was interesting because he was asked about why do Scottie and Fred, players like that-- or like, what are you looking for? This is a question from Vivek Jacob, actually.

And he asked him-- he's like, how do you identify the players that are within-- that fit your culture? And that's when Masai got into the whole winning thing. He's like, Fred's a winner. Fred has won at every single level. He embodies winning. He does everything it takes to win. He's continuously pursuing perfection and trying to make himself a better player, so he fits.

And then he just made a little turn, saying, and I see these qualities in Malachi-- unprompted. He just brought it up. And this is, again, the standard that Malachi has to get to. It's the same standard that Kyle had, which Fred had to emulate. And now Malachi has to emulate Fred VanVleet. Unfair? Potentially. But this is kind of how it goes.

And Nick had said during his end-of-season that he had just actually met with Malachi. And he said that we had a good conversation, and Malachi still feels like he can really help this team. And to his credit, I mean, I think Malachi is going to get in the gym. He's going to get to work. He's got to become a knockdown shooter.

This is Nick Nurse's words essentially right here, saying he's got to become a knockdown shooter. He's got to be willing to get dirty. He has to pretty much become Fred VanVleet. He does that, he's going to get playing time.

But also, Fred VanVleet's an All-Star. Tough one, man. He's in a tricky spot. If he's anywhere else, I think he's going to be getting stable minutes. But with the Raptors, it's a tough one.

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yeah, you can see even the way he played through, I'd say, the end of the season, and even some of his postseason. I mean, it was just that series. But some of the minutes that he did get, I thought he held it together really well. He kind of showed up way more collected, I'd say, and looking much more assured than I think he did probably all season.

And you're right, on any other roster, I think that's the thing. Like, the standards are so high here that on any other roster, you know, Malachi would be your really stable, good second option-- your point guard coming off the bench. For some teams, he would be the point guard, right?

AMIT MANN: That's true. It's true.

KATIE HEINDL: There are. I think of the Magic, or I think of--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: --the Kings. There are-- yeah, there's franchises where--

AMIT MANN: Well, not the Magic. They got Jalen Suggs.

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, that's true. Well, I don't know. Mm--

AMIT MANN: Uh--

KATIE HEINDL: No, I think Malachi, with his experience, probably.

AMIT MANN: No, I'm just kidding.

KATIE HEINDL: Or it's like an even--

AMIT MANN: I hear you.

KATIE HEINDL: --it's an even split.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, I hear you.

KATIE HEINDL: So yeah, no shade to Jalen Suggs.

AMIT MANN: None, not-- not on this podcast. We're not doing that. Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: No. Anyway, so I-- and I go back to what Masai said too, that they can't give up on guys too soon, and they're-- it does require a lot of patience. I think-- again, like, I've said this before, but Malachi Flynn got a really bad first season. Like, he got a bad rookie year. It was very unstable.

He did not get the kind of minutes I'm sure he thought he would. You have COVID folded into all that, and the team-- him being in and out at various points of the season. And that's really tough. You can't get reps.

What he needs is reps. And you can't get reps in in that situation. So I was-- yeah, I was really happy to hear them say that about Malachi. Also hearing Masai mention Dalano by name as well--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: --just to say these are guys that they're still going to develop. They need to if they want to stick around. But they're still going to, and they still believe that they can.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, there's a real emphasis on internal growth for this summer. And I think a lot of media members are asking, like, how do you guys make sure that we're not sitting here today, as in a first round exit next season? And both of them, they said internal growth. That is the first and foremost thing that they need.

They need Pascal to develop his 3-point shot. They need Fred to be healthy. They need OG to take another leap forward. Scottie Barnes has to have an upgrade in his sophomore season. It's just like all of these players-- because this is kind of the idea, right?

And we're talking patience. And I'm sure some people feel like, oh, we've had our patient year, although it was a terrific year. It's like, but there's still more patience required.

KATIE HEINDL: I mean, that's a very spoiled perspective when you think about some teams that have had, like, 12 to 15 patient years in a row.

AMIT MANN: I know, but the Raptors aren't that, though. They're not like that.

KATIE HEINDL: They're not-- and I'm not saying they're going to be that. But like, you know--

AMIT MANN: We're spoiled.

KATIE HEINDL: --adjust your expectations.

AMIT MANN: No, we are spoiled. We are absolutely spoiled.

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: This was a development year, and they won, like, 48 games.

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm

AMIT MANN: We're very, very much spoiled. But that is kind of the standard that they've set for us since, like, 2010, going back to-- not 2010-- 2013, with Kyle and DeMar. It's just been a constant winning year by year by year, outside of the Tampa season last year, which I love that Masai [INAUDIBLE] that line, was a success because it helped them get Scottie Barnes.

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm

AMIT MANN: That is a way of thinking that I need to get better at, that positivity. That's like a way to spin things. That is perfection.

KATIE HEINDL: Finding the silver linings, yeah.

AMIT MANN: Silver linings everywhere.

KATIE HEINDL: Got to.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, but it's going to be a lot of that. And I think the upgrades that they make, if any, if they do happen, they're going to be very, very pointed, very specific to what they need. And I think part of this, too, is that maybe they need to find out how players are going to come back.

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm

AMIT MANN: You know, what if-- what if, you know, Justin Champagnie, a person that Masai Ujiri mentioned, that you know, maybe he's someone that could actually get rotation minutes next year? What if he comes back and he is just a knockdown 3-point shooter, he's getting offensive rebounds, he's a little bit-- you know, he's in better shape or whatever the case is, as every single player has to get in better shape? Maybe now he's a person like, oh, this guy is now going to be part of this mold, right?

Precious Achiuwa-- another person, but what if he just takes another leap forward? If everyone takes a leap forward, how many more adjustments do you need to make? And are you going to add on additional salary when you already are, like, top 11, top 10 in the NBA? You're probably better off-- you want to bank on personal development, internal development, rather than having to go through free agency to find insert player here.

And so I think it's going to be kind of hard for them at times to really make those adjustments. But I would think that a person like Thad Young, I don't think that they want to pay him $14 million once again. And so I would imagine he'll come back a little bit cheaper, if indeed he does come back, which it does seem like-- I do think they want to bring him back.

KATIE HEINDL: I hope he does, I really do. The way that they were talking about him, I do feel like they bring him back when you refer to someone as, like, the missing piece that you were looking for, and like, basically, like, dreaming about, kind of as Masai said, that-- and then they got him. But also, just like, what he did in-- I mean, what he did in Game 4? Yeah, Game 4--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: Wait-- yes, Game 4.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: --is reason enough alone to me to bring him back. And he did it so quickly, right? Like, he did it so fast. He fit in with the team.

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