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Player Review: Svi Mykhailiuk never found his groove with the Raptors

A good preseason performance led to high expectations, but Mykhailiuk ultimately couldn’t deliver.

Toronto Raptors v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When the Toronto Raptors signed Svi Mykhailiuk late in the summer of 2021, it seemed like Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster may have found a free-agent steal. After all, Mykhailiuk came to the Raptors as a career 36% shooter from downtown, and the Raptors, as constructed over the summer, looked to be seriously lacking in long-range shooting.

Early on, things seemed to be going swimmingly; he shot 41% from three in the preseason, flashed creativity putting the ball on the floor, and made quick passes that kept the offense moving. He even seemed relatively spry on defense, too!

Unfortunately, all of that pretty much disappeared as soon as the season started.

Mykhailiuk appeared in 56 games for the Raptors, starting five of them; he averaged 4.6 points and 1.6 rebounds, while shooting just 39% from the field — and a seriously disappointing 31% from deep. That’s by far the worst mark of Mykhailiuk’s career; this dude shot 40% on 5.1 attempts for the Detroit Pistons just two years ago!

Without his shot, there wasn’t much room for Mykhailiuk in the rotation; a good chunk of those 56 appearances came in garbage time.

There were some extenuating circumstances to Mykhailiuk’s disappointing season that we should point out. He did a stint in the health and safety protocols (along with most of his teammates) in December; then in February, his native Ukraine was invaded by Russia. I can barely concentrate on work when the Raptors lose, imagine having to make three-pointers in front of 18,000 fans when you know your country, your family and friends, are dying into face of an occupying military force?

Mykhailiuk somehow managed to soldier on, and he definitely deserves our respect and admiration for that.

Looking ahead to next year, it’s a pretty safe bet that Mykhailiuk will be back with the team; he has a player option for 2022-23 that he’s sure to execute (though of course, the team could waive him or buy him out and eat the contract if they really didn’t want him around).

Can he make a difference next year? Mykhailiuk turns 25 next month, but the Raptors have had success getting more out of players in their mid-20s; I don’t think Mykhailiuk is over the hill yet. But other than that preseason stint there's not a whole lot we can take from this season to give us hope for next year.

The shot is the key; that’s the one thing, in theory, Mykhailiuk brings to the Raptors that the team doesn't really have. His playmaking has room to grow; again, we saw flashes of it in the preseason. But the shot is what’s going to open that up for him. And if his shot isn’t dropping, then he’ll never get off Nick Nurse’s bench, because at this point, he probably is what he is on the other end — it’s unlikely Mykhailiuk will ever be as fleet-footed or quick-handed on D as some of the other “Vision 6’9” Raptors.

If I sound pessimistic, well, I am. If “40% from downtown” Mykhailiuk plays for the Raptors next year, it’ll make a huge difference in the team’s offensive outlook. But “30% Mykhailiuk”? That’s not something we need to see again.

Overall grade: D