Corey Fisher is a very good, but he has lost a step or two of quickness after gaining about 15 pounds in the last year. Flynn immediately took advantage of this disparity and slid behind him on an inbounds play for a backdoor lay-up attempt. Fisher grabbed Flynn to keep him from scoring, but this foreshadowed the fact that Johnny would basically be able to get by Fisher whenever he wanted to throughout the game.
Although Fisher no longer has "blow by" speed, he makes excellent use of high screens to set up his jumpshot. Flynn did a good job of fighting through the screens and contesting the shots enough to hold Fisher to 0-3 from 3 point range, but late in the game Fisher started moving better without the ball and knocked down a few very nice midrange shots. Again, Flynn tends to lose focus on defense when his opponent does not have the ball.
Where Flynn really excelled in this game was feeding his big man, J.J. Hickson. The class of 2007 PF played an incredible first half, absolutely embarrassing Braxton Dupree, a 6-8 F out of Baltimore. Flynn made a concerted effort to get the ball to Hickson both in transition and in the halfcourt.
The official camp stats had him for zero assists, but I had him for 4. One of these came when Flynn pulled an absolutely devastating change of direction at mid-court during a fastbreak, then threw a shovel pass to Hickson for a dunk.
Three other points to make about Flynn's play in this game:
1) He tried a few outside shots, none of which fell. The form, elevation, and rotation looked good, but the results were not.
2) He blocked 2 shots – one in transition, and one of Fisher's shots on a drive into the paint. The second was very impressive; he literally palmed the shot and ripped it away from Fisher.
3) He made probably his most memorable move of the week when he went baseline by Fisher then challenged both 6-8 Braxton Dupree and 6-6 2008 F Terrell Vincent. He got hit by both guys in midair, but rotated his body with a double-clutch move near the rim, then spun the ball in on his way back down to the court. He also drew a foul on the play and converted the free throw. Flynn's official stat line was 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 5-5 from the line in the 80-75 win. Fisher tallied 8 points on 4-12 shooting.
This game was somewhat of a reality check for Flynn, as he was giving up about half a foot to Legion. Although Legion only outscored him 11 to 10, he did highlight some deficiencies in Flynn's game.
First off, let me say that Legion is a terrific prospect. He's very quick with the dribble, can change directions, and has great size for a perimeter player at 6-4/6-5. His body mannerisms are very similar to former UConn All-American Ben Gordon.
Legion was the first guard who Flynn couldn't out-quick on a regular basis. As such, Flynn tried to shift his focus to the outside, but Legion blocked his first three point attempt. Later in the game he started to figure out how to get by Legion, but he couldn't finish due to Legion's size. He did, however, draw a bunch of fouls, hitting 8 of 10 from the line, including many important shots down the stretch to again seal the win.
The other thing that Flynn struggled with was defending Legion. When Fisher used a high screen to get spacing, Flynn was quick enough to get through it and contest the shot. When Legion executed a similar play at the top of the key, he was big enough to simply shoot over Flynn. Legion hit one three right in Flynn's face, and made 2 other jumpers that Flynn couldn't contest.
Flynn once again showed pretty good court vision in this game, highlighted by a slicked one-handed between the legs bounce pass to a trailing Chris Allen for a dunk. Although he will sometimes break out the jazzy passes, most of the time he focuses on making the "right" pass, which is largely why his team started to play much better as the week went on.
The final stat line for this game was Flynn 10 pts, one rebound, 1-3 fg, 8-10 ft, 3 ast, 2 st. Legion had 11 pts on 5-14 shooting with 3 rebounds.
General Comments One thing that I really like about Flynn is that he doesn't get too caught up in the "looks" factor when it comes to passing. So many of the PGs at ABCD are fixated on making spectacular passes, that they can't make basic ones. Johnny is always looking for the right play to make, not just the flashy one. Even though there is a little bit of razzle-dazzle in his game, he is a step apart from most of the other guards because he is more fundamentally sound.
Flynn doesn't dominate the ball to the detriment of his team. If he can't make a play early in a possession, he'll give up the ball to keep the offense flowing. This can be a good thing if his team is unselfish, but it won't work with a bunch of gunners. At ABCD, playing with unfamiliar players, this was sometimes counterproductive because once he gave up the ball, he rarely get it back. In Boeheim's offense, he should have the opportunity to create early, but still get the ball back later in the shot clock if he originally gives it up.
The one thing that I wanted to see more of was his perimeter shot. He was so effective at getting into the paint and breaking down the defense, that he took only a few shots outside of lay-ups. In total, he took only 6 threes in the first 6 games, making one. In the warm-ups, his shot looked smooth and fluid. He does shoot a true jumpshot with good elevation and excellent rotation. I have seen him shoot very well from the perimeter in the past, but can't really comment on the last few days. He has done a great job at the line so far, making 82.6% (19 of 23).
My biggest concern with Flynn is how he fits into Boeheim's system. He is precisely the kind of guard that JB likes on the offensive side of the ball (a playmaking leader who can break down a defense off the dribble), but he is also precisely the kind of guard that Boeheim doesn't like on the defensive side of the ball. He's small and doesn't have the wingspan to closeout and contest shooters when playing the zone.
Flynn is an excellent on-the-ball defender most of the time, but that will only work if Boeheim abandons the zone and focuses on man-to-man defense. Is this in the future? Only time will tell, but my guess is ‘no'. As such, Flynn will really have to earn his playing time, but I think he's got it in him to be a future Orange star.
Bill Walker, OJ Mayo and Isiah Thomas watch Johnny Flynn blow past for a score