Assessing Malachi Flynn and Derrick Alston Jr.

March 7th, 2020

by Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch Malachi Flynn and the San Diego Aztecs take on Derrick Alston Jr. and the Boise State Broncos in the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament that took place on March 6th. Alston started off strong, as he showed off solid all-around skills for most of the first half, and Flynn started off fairly slowly, but had made some good plays intermittently in that time span. Then, Malachi Flynn started playing very well after that, as he excelled as a shooter and facilitator while Alston faltered, and San Diego ended up coming back from behind to get a double-digit victory over Boise State. Here are my thoughts on Flynn and Alston fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

San Diego State's junior point guard, Malachi Flynn played very well to help lead his team to a comeback win over Boise State.  (Photo: K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)
San Diego State’s junior point guard, Malachi Flynn played very well to help lead his team to a comeback win over Boise State. (Photo: K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Malachi Flynn had a stellar showing, as he excelled as a shooter, scorer, and distributor to help lead his team to a resilient, come from behind victory over Boise State.

Flynn did a great job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team. He showed a knack for dribbling off screens to make smooth, pull-up threes, and he also made a deep step back three from way out early in this contest. Flynn also made a quick trail three on the break, and he also excelled at making pull-up jumpers from the mid-range area. Flynn is a sharpshooter that really showed a penchant for making outside shots, and he really excelled as a floor spacer in this game.

Plus, he also displayed solid playmaking skills. Flynn is a patient player that will probe the defense in order to find the open man, and he would dribble off of screens to get shooters the ball to set up scores for them. He often would take advantage of defenders sagging off their man, and he would quickly get his teammates the basketball, and he also can find them on the move. He did have a few of his passes picked off early on though, and he also had a ball poked away that led him to commit another turnover.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Flynn would chase down balls to get defensive boards for his team, and he showed a good motor to get his team rebounds.

Defensively, he looked to be about average. For the positives, Flynn was able to get a steal early on, and he also poked a ball away out of bounds to nearly collect another. However, he had trouble defending bigger players in the post, which would lead him to commit fouls. On another play, he also shaded too far to the left when defending a drive, as he got bat off the dribble, which caused him to commit a reach-in foul on the opposing ball handler as a result. Also, there was another possession where he over-helped in the paint and was late to rotate, and ended up allowing his man to score on a three-point shot.

In general, Flynn played very well, and he is a smart, cerebral playmaker that showed a very good ability to shoot and pass the basketball, and he also showed off very good poise in the clutch, albeit with the exception of that one time where he picked up a technical foul due to having taunted an opponent after the whistle late in the second half. Overall, Flynn is a skilled point guard that has a solid set of offensive skills, and while he may only be an average athlete, his strong ability to knock down jumpers, pass, and handle the basketball could enable him to be a good pick for a team in the late first round of the upcoming draft, as he could end up being a solid player similar to Charlotte Hornets’ Devonte’ Graham in the NBA.

Boise State's redshirt junior forward, Derrick Alston Jr. impressed with his versatile play early on, but he also struggled to make plays in the second half in his team's loss to San Diego State. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
Boise State’s redshirt junior forward, Derrick Alston Jr. impressed with his versatile play early on, but he also struggled to make plays in the second half in his team’s loss to San Diego State. (Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

Boise State’s 6-8, redshirt junior swingman, Derrick Alston Jr. put forth an uneven performance in his team’s loss to San Diego State. He played very well early on, and he gave NBA teams and scouts a taste of what he might be able to do at the next level. He showed off versatile scoring skills, as well as some playmaking and defensive skills, and he excelled at making plays on both ends of the court for most of the first half.

After his team was up by 16 in the first half, it was later all down hill for both him and his team, as they struggled together in their loss to San Diego State. Ultimately, Alston had trouble making shots from just about anywhere down the stretch, and his inconsistent shooting could be concerning moving forward.

Alston showed a good ability to score on hustle plays. Early in this game, he managed to score on a thunderous dunk off of a cut, and he also caught a long pass after sprinting down the court to get a score on the break another time. On the downside, he also had a shot blocked off of a cut on a separate possession.

He also flashed the ability to knock down jumpers.   Alston was able to make a couple of spot-up threes early on, as he was able to make one from way out, and he also made an open corner three another time. However, he can be quite streaky with his jump shot, and he ended up missing many threes late in this game.

He also showed an ability to get scores off the dribble. Alston would tend to go to his right, and he can use ball fakes and dribble moves to draw fouls upon his defenders, which would sometimes enable him to get to the free throw line. However, he also would struggle to get all the way to the basket, as he may not possess elite lateral mobility or ball handling skills, so he would tend to miss shots in traffic.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills. Alston showed a good ability to throw passes off the dribble. He was able to throw a sharp interior pass out of the post to set up a score for a teammate, and he also threw a quick behind the head pass off of a drive to notch another assist. He is a willing passer that can handle the ball, and he also sees the floor well. Sometimes though, he would throw hasty passes that would get intercepted. He also was called for a push off when driving to the hoop on the break, which led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover another time.

Alston was able to leap up to get his fair share of boards in this game, and he would sometimes push the ball up the floor afterwards. On the downside, he didn’t always seem to show great rebounding instincts. He had a ball bounce off his hands before it went out of bounds on one play, and there was another where he didn’t corral a ball on a defensive rebounding attempt, as he lost it until a teammate was able to go get it instead.

He also played fairly good defense. Alston showed a knack for contesting shots to force misses, as he would close out hard on three-point shots to get some stops, and he also rotated to block a shot hard off of a drive due to possessing good athleticism, timing, and instincts. Sometimes though, he would sag too far off his man and then be late to rotate back, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots. He also was called for a reach-in foul in the backcourt another time after an opponent had intercepted a pass.

In summary, Alston had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to San Diego State. He played well early on, and he was able to make some impressive plays on both ends of the floor. He is an athletic combo forward that can make threes and also plays above the rim, he is a rangy defender, and he is also an unselfish player that will move the basketball. On the downside, he had trouble getting all the way to the rim to get scores off of drives, as he would miss shots especially when he wouldn’t get foul calls. He also missed too many threes, and aside from drawing a pair of free throws off of a drive in the second half, Alston was unable to get into a groove down the stretch. Right now, he will need to make more shots consistently, but it’s clear that the talent is there. He may project to be a second round prospect, but if he can put his skills altogether, Alston could end up being a rotation-level worthy player similar to Detroit Pistons’ guard, Jordan McRae in the NBA.

Other Notes:

San Diego State’s 6-1 redshirt senior guard, K.J. Feagin played very well in his team’s double-digit victory over Boise State. He showed a penchant for making spot-up threes, and he also can run off of ball screens to knock them down from beyond the arc. He also showed a good ability to make tough shots off the dribble, as he was able to use a pump fake to make a close range jumper, and he also made a tough, fadeaway jumper in traffic.

Feagin also defended well, as he was able to jump on a loose ball to get a steal, and he also did a good job of defending Justinian Jessup, as he limited his opponent’s shots attempts, prevented him from getting clean, open looks, and Feagin would contest jumpers to force misses. Overall, Feagin is an athletic, skilled combo guard that shoots the ball well, and he could end up being a solid addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Boise State’s 6-4 senior guard, Alex Hobbs came off the bench to basically have the game of his life, but his strong 21 point-performance was not enough to get his team the win, as they ended up losing by 13 to San Diego State. Still, Hobbs ended up playing the best among players on his team in this game.

Hobbs showed a very good ability to make threes, as he can make them in transition as well as off the dribble. Plus, he showed a good ability to score in the post, as he possesses good strength, footwork, and scoring touch to do so. He also would get strong scores off the dribble, and he also was able to drive hard left to get a solid score in transition.

He also passed the ball well, and he would find open shooters to notch assists. He did struggle a bit on defense, as he would sometimes have trouble keeping his man in front of him, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Hobbs is a tough, physical swingman that excelled as a shooter and shot maker for his team. He did a good job of making shots in a variety of ways, and he is a skilled player that could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster.

San Diego State’s 6-6 junior swingman, Matt Mitchell played very well in his team’s win over Boise State. He excelled at making spot-up threes, and he also was able to make a deep three from well beyond the arc once. He also was able to score on a fadeaway jumper off the dribble, and Mitchell also made a tough, fadeaway, one-legged baseline jumper from the post to show off his low post scoring skills.

He also passed the ball well, as he would throw sharp, accurate passes to find the open man in order to set up scoring chances for his teammates. He did commit a traveling violation once due to taking one too many steps, but Mitchell generally did a decent job of passing and handling the basketball.

Mitchell also played very good defense. He was able to make a chase down block off of a cut from behind, and he also would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections. Plus, he also managed to contest a three to force a miss another time.

Overall, Matt Mitchell is a strong, mobile basketball player that can score in a variety of ways, and he also defended well. He may have the skills to thrive as a 3 and D type of role player at the next level, and he could project into being a solid role player similar to veteran forward, Anthony Tolliver in the association.

Boise State’s 6-7 redshirt senior forward, R.J. Williams also played well in his team’s loss to San Diego State. He excelled at scoring in the post, as he possesses good strength to draw fouls, and he also managed to score on a running hook. He would frequently get scores around the basket, and he also was able to score on a strong put back after getting an offensive board. However, he struggled to make jumpers that were outside of the paint area.

Plus, he also rebounded the ball very well, and he would outmuscle his opponents to get numerous boards, though he also would commit fouls due to getting entangled with the opposition when fighting for position on the block in pursuit of getting rebounds. Williams also played adequate defense. He was able to poke a ball away to help force a turnover, and he also managed to draw a charge when defending in the post, but sometimes he would sag too far off his man, which would allow opponents to score on jumpers.

Overall, Williams is an energetic, physical player that can bang in the paint to get points and rebounds for his team. On the downside, he is undersized to play inside at the next level, and will need to improve his jump shot and ability to defend out on the perimeter. He probably won’t be drafted and may be a long shot to reach the NBA, but Williams may have the skills to carve out a solid career in the G-League and/or overseas.

Boise State’s 6-6 junior swingman, Abu Kigab excelled as a scorer and defender in his team’s loss to San Diego State. He was able to make a fadeaway, turnaround jumper in the post, also scored on a left-handed drive, and he also made a deep three late in this game to show that he can score the basketball in a variety of ways. He struggled more to score off the dribble when the help would arrive, but Kigab possesses good agility, footwork, and shooting touch to make shots.

He also played adequate defense. He was able to get his hands on a ball to get a steal, and he also successfully drew a charge when defending a drive. Sometimes though, he can struggle to defend his man on the ball, which can lead him to commit touch fouls.

Overall, Kigab is an athletic, skilled shot maker that can score the basketball in a variety of ways. Boise State has to be excited of the skills he could bring to the next year if he returns, as Kigab could thrive for them in an expanded role next season. He will likely need to stay in school to hone his game, but he is a talented player that could potentially be a second round pick for the 2021 draft.

San Diego State’s 6-6 junior swingman, Jordan Schakel excelled at knocking down threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense. He was able to make a couple of open, spot-up threes, and he also dribbled to his right to make a pull-up three later on. He didn’t seem to show much of his other skills, but he is a very good shooter that could potentially project to be a shooting specialist at the next level.