Malachi Flynn Is A Name To Watch For Mountain West Player Of The Year
Could San Diego State guard Malachi Flynn be the Mountain West Player of the Year at year’s end?
Malachi Flynn, not Sam Merrill will be the Mountain West’s best player.
We at the Mountain West Wire put our votes in for the Mountain West preseason awards and it seemed pretty unanimous for the top team, preseason defensive player of the year, newcomer of the year, and preseason player of the year. Those all were pretty unanimous, but they were not completely unanimous. In a break from the rest of my colleagues, I went with the unconventional pick and chose Malachi Flynn as the preseason player of the year.
Before you start calling me a homer and griping about the pick let me clarify two things. First, yes, I am an Aztecs fan and an optimist when it comes to the team. But, at the same time, I am a realist and would not take this stance just out of blind loyalty to San Diego State.
Secondly, I look at the voting for the award as the player I predict to win the award at season’s end and I believe that Flynn will be the one. Now I did vote for Utah State as number one and I realize that usually the best player on the best team gets the award, but I believe that Flynn will be a no-brainer by year’s end.
Anyways without further ado let me get into three reasons why I believe that Flynn, and not Sam Merrill or Neemias Queta will be the top player in the conference when the year ends.
Flynn could lead the conference in scoring
Flynn is being critically underrated by voters in this conference because of one of two reasons; either it is because 1) he did not play last year or 2) people are unaware of him because he played at Washington State. The media voted him New Comer of the Year, but a player who will be a contender for the scoring title, and player of the year deserved to be consensus first-teamer in all publications, and he is not (the only place he is on the first team is the Mountain West Wire list).
Two years ago Flynn played at Washington State, which was ranked at 179th overall in the nation. The Cougars finished that season 12-19 and 4-14 in the Pas-12. Flynn was the bright spot on the team, averaging 15.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. From the field he shot 41.3%, which included a ridiculously good 51.8% from two-point range. Flynn ranked in the 91st percentile on offense when you combine his scoring and assist (73rdpercentile in scoring alone).
While his numbers are not all-league right now, they are comparative if not better than most of the Mountain West preseason first team. Also, it is important to note that his sophomore year he scored 15.4 points against a schedule which was rated as 5.22 above average. Take in comparison that Sam Merrill scored 20.9 points for a Utah State team ranked 29th in the nation against a schedule rated 0.89 above average. Given an easier schedule in the Mountain West and a year off developing his game it is easy to why his scoring could skyrocket.
Neemias Queta maybe Utah State’s best player
Utah State is expected to win the Mountain West this year and to the winner go all the accolades. But if you go online and search NBA 2020 mock draft you will not find Merrill’s name, rather his teammate Neemias Queta makes a number of appearances in the second round. Last year he averaged 11.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game and a marked improvement would put him in the conversation. If the Aggies finish first then it could become a three player race for Player of the Year and that would favor Flynn as the Aggies could split votes. Should the Aztecs finish in second then Flynn would have a very strong chance in that scenario.
San Diego State has a chance to win the Mountain West
Preseason awards and lists are fun and create great talking points, but one thing that they usually are not is accurate. There are a number of good teams that could dethrone the Aggies, including the Aztecs, New Mexico, or maybe a sneaky team like Boise State or Fresno State surprises everyone and claims the crown. Everyone is picking Utah State, and deservedly so, but that does not mean they are a lock to win. Should the Aztecs win the league then Flynn becomes the prohibitive favorite.
I look at the preseason award, as a prediction of whom I believe will win it at year’s end. I understand why my colleagues selected Merrill, but I have high hopes for him and the ceiling is higher for him than anyone else. Maybe it is because I am not as informed about other schools as I am about San Diego State, but as someone who covers the team I expect him to be good. Good enough to be the best player in the conference.