Malachi Flynn drafted by Toronto Raptors with 29th pick
Former SDSU point guard Malachi Flynn is now a member of the Toronto Raptors organization.
On Wednesday, Malachi Flynn joined Kawhi Leonard and Michael Cage as the only first-round NBA draft picks in SDSU men’s basketball history. The Toronto Raptors selected him 29th overall in the first round.
The Aztecs started the 2019-2020 season on a program record-setting 26-game win streak that saw them ranked as high as No. 4 in the AP poll. Flynn was the star of the show, pun not intended. He helped bring the team to the Mountain West Conference Championship where they lost to Utah State, one of only two losses the Aztecs would have all year. They finished the season as the AP’s 6th seed and prepared for March Madness. Unfortunately, COVID caused the cancellation of all sporting events at the time. SDSU fans will always wonder how far that team could have gone in the NCAA Tournament.
Malachi was born and raised in Washington, so naturally after high school he went to Washington State University. In his two seasons there, he showed a glimpse of what he would become. In 2016-2017, his freshman season, he had a 38.7 three-pointer percentage, his career-best. In 17-18, he improved his points per game from 9.7 up to 15.8. On November 26 of that season, Malachi would lead the Cougars to a 93-86 victory over the Aztecs while scoring 24 points and earning six assists. That clearly caught the eye of SDSU coach Brian Dutcher, who would eventually persuade Flynn to transfer to SDSU. The transfer made sense. Dutcher had been with the Aztecs for many winning seasons and saw Kawhi Leonard make it to be NBA. WSU failed to get a winning record with Flynn on their team, thus not getting him the attention he deserved.
Due to NCAA transfer rules, Malachi had to sit out of the 2018-2019 season, but the wait would be worth it. In the 19-20 season, he was playing must-see basketball. At point guard, he was the smartest player on the team and made everyone look better. Pretty much across the board he got better, while being surrounded by better players like KJ Feagin, Yanni Wetzel, and Matt Mitchell. His saw increases in FG% (44.1), FT% (85.7), REB (4.5), AST (5.1), Steals (1.8), and points per game (17.6). This shows how much a well-rounded player he has become.
Not only was he good throughout the game, but he also has the competitiveness to show up in big situations. Flynn delivered a game-winning three with the game and win streak on the line in the final seconds against San Jose State. Not only his skill, but in this post-game interview, one can see that he is constantly thinking and able to improvise.
That mentality earned him the Mountain West Player of the Year honors, a Wooden Award finalist selection, and Consensus All-American Second team placement.
The Toronto Raptors know how to utilize a player like Malachi. For the past few seasons they have had Fred VanVleet who, like Malachi, is undersized for the NBA at 6’1”. The Raptors helped develop him into a budding star who can impact the game at any point. Unfortunately for the Raptors, VanVleet became a free agent this offseason, and it’s still unknown if he will re-sign or not. Drafting Malachi gives them guard depth if they cannot agree to a deal with VanVleet.
Raptor fans will be happy to get another SDSU alumni. In 2019 Kawhi Leonard led them to their first-ever NBA championship. Both players left their mark on SDSU basketball, and hopefully Flynn will follow Kawhi’s footsteps and leave his mark in the NBA.
Evan is a student finishing up a degree in Finance from Northern Arizona University. The ability to break down numbers and find the story behind them has lead to his first of writing for East Village times. He covers baseball which is the sport he grew up playing and has followed even after his playing years.