Home > Shook Ankles > Shook Ankles: One Team’s Trash Is Another Team’s Treasure

Shook Ankles: One Team’s Trash Is Another Team’s Treasure

On draft night, the Minnesota Timberwolves decided to part ways with Jonny Flynn, the sixth overall draft pick just two years prior. After undergoing hip surgery in his first offseason, Flynn was coming off an understandably disappointing performance last year: He started only eight games–down from 81 his rookie season–and posted a severe drop in almost all meaningful statistical averages. Still most known for playing 67 of a possible 70 minutes in a gutsy six overtime Big East Tournament win over UConn, Flynn registered 30 minutes or more just four times last season. It was clear to see that the Flynn who David Kahn drafted, whether it was due to injury or the wrong offensive system, wasn’t the Jonny Flynn we were seeing.

He has almost all the intangibles needed to flourish at the point in this league, and Minnesota should end up looking silly when they moved him for Brad Miller and a few chips that may never pan out. The Rockets, on the other hand—despite their overflowing point guard situation—should have themselves a steal. With teams now trending towards simultaneously placing three or more capable ball handlers on the floor, this might not even be as crowded a situation as it looks on paper. Flynn, Kyle Lowry, and Goran Dragic (whose option was just picked up) could pose major matchup problems, and as long as they continue to improve their accuracy from the three-point range, their ability to space the floor should create a Rubik’s cube of problems for defensive assistants throughout the league.
(Flynn shot 36 percent from deep before his injury, Dragic was throwing darts after his trade from Phoenix to Houston—52 percent, and Kyle Lowry, at a career best 38 percent, came out of nowhere last season to establish himself as an improving long range threat. That combines to a 42 percent average between the three of them which would be right around Gary Neal-type accuracy. Boom?)
Jonny Flynn is a 22-year-old playing the most difficult position in basketball, and this is the most irking thing about the trade. I understand Minnesota’s need to clear room for Ricky Rubio’s wizardry, avoiding any possible controversy that could develop with two first round picks vying for one starting spot, but in all honesty why couldn’t it work? Nobody told David Khan to sign Luke Ridnour to a four-year, $16 million contract last year, and in the aftermath of that deal, Flynn was forced out the door.
What people seem to forget when talking about/evaluating/processing basketball players, is their ability to improve in a relatively short time frame. Flynn averaged 13.5 points per game on 42 percent shooting as a 20-year-old starting point guard on the league’s most unfocused franchise. All things considered, that’s pretty good. He was then severely injured. So the result of all this? A trade? We’ve given up on the poor kid before he’s given a chance? I know this is sports, but nobody reaches their apex of ability at the age of 22. In every profession—except teenage pop music sensation, maybe—there’s much room to improve as the brain begins to grow and our live’s are touched with whole new sensations and experiences. Someone once told me that from the day I graduate college up to my 30th birthday, I will have noticeably evolved at least three times; the music I listen to, the food I enjoy eating, the way I dress on weekends, and, most importantly, the way I look at the world, will shift. Translating this to a basketball player is simple; they (like regular people!) don’t stand still. They either progress with hard work and dedication or fall off and are weeded out.
Time will tell if Jonny Flynn is capable of becoming one of the league’s elite game managers, typecast as instant offense off the bench, or a total bust, but my money’s on the first choice. The first time Houston touches down in Minnesota, Ricky Rubio might want to call in sick.
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