What can I write in today’s column that I didn’t write in yesterday’s? The Toronto Raptors had hardly any players, fought as best they could, but fell short of victory against the Dallas Mavericks. They even threw in a signature 2020-21 Raptors fake comeback!
Thankfully, I continue to be intrigued by Malachi Flynn and Jalen Harris. Let’s start there!
1. Flynn in the PnR
Malachi Flynn came in to the NBA with a rep as being a great pick-and-roll player, but for most of his rookie season, well, that wasn’t particularly evident. But it’s coming together! He’s starting to develop some good PnR chemistry with both Khem Birch and Freddie Gillespie, and has shown the ability to pull up for the jumper or get to the rim when coming around a screen.
I’m also a big fan of this:
Flynn finished with a career-high 26 points. The jumper still isn’t falling at a high rate, but with a summer to work on it, I’m starting to believe in Malachi as a legitimate backup point guard for this team.
2. Jalen Harris the New Norm?
The Raptors’ other rookie showed some burst getting to the rim last night, and he continues stepping into threes with confidence. That reminds me of our old friend Norman Powell! Could Harris be the bench gunner of the future? I mean, tell me you can’t see some Powell in these highlights:
He’s also doing stuff like this, which is pretty awesome to see from a 59th-overall pick.
Harris, a Dallas-area native, scored 17 in the first half, and finished with a career-best 31 — the 10th Raptor to score 30 in a game this year.
30+ in a meaningless game in the backend of the dumbest NBA season ever isn’t necessarily a harbinger of future success, but seeing a well-rounded offensive game like this certainly doesn’t dissuade me from thinking Harris has a bright future.
3. Sharing the Rock
The Raptors (and the Mavs too, for the matter) started out the game throwing the ball over the court. But they quickly settled in and in the final could minutes of the first quarter, actually started passing the ball to each other! And they looked like, well, kind of like a team, instead of a random collection of kinda-sorta-maybe NBA players!
Even Aron Baynes got into the action in the second quarter, dropping a nice dime to Harris in the corner for three.
It’s not clear how much it matters, since some of these players won’t be back next season and even if they are, they won’t be playing with each other this much. But it is nice to see that chemistry developing.
4. Khem Birch Making Bank
Gary Trent’s hot start with the Raptors had me thinking that he might end up pricing himself out of Toronto’s desired pay range this summer, but his cold shooting of late has lessened that worry.
Except now I’m worried about Khem Birch! The Montrealer is averaging 11.5 points and and 7.3 rebounds as a Raptor, has been a surprisingly effective passer, and has been solid on the defensive end as well.
Quality bigs are always in demand, and frankly, not that easy to come by, as the Raptors can attest. Birch is definitely going to get some attention on the free agent market.
5. 37.8 per cent
The Raptors, amazingly, are not dead last in opponents’ three-point field goal percentage; their 37.8% mark leaves them… 24th. Not great, Bob!
The Mavericks continued the trend last night, dropping in 17 threes on 42 attempts.
If there’s one thing I hope the Raptors improve upon next season, it’s this. Watching opponents rack up threes is almost as depressing as watching the Raptors play great defense for 23 seconds and then give up an offensive rebound.
One more to go? One more to go. Thank God.