Niagara Gazette

May 30, 2009

BASKETBALL: NBA sizes up Jonny Flynn

By Jonah Bronstein

The NBA learned this week what most of Niagara Falls already knew:

Jonny Flynn isn’t a 6-footer, but he’s still a heck of a player.

Reports out of Chicago, where the NBA just concluded its pre-draft scouting combine, indicated the Niagara Falls native measured out as one of the shortest players in attendance, but his performance in competitive drills solidified his status as a potential top 10 pick.

Flynn was measured at the combine to be 5-foot-11 without shoes, an inch shorter than he was listed by Syracuse, but taller than some thought he may be. Flynn was found to have a 6-foot-4 wingspan, however, better than the other sub-6-footers in the draft, North Carolina’s Ty Lawson and St. Mary’s Patrick Mills, as well as taller point guards like Davidson’s Stephen Curry and Virginia Commonwealth’s Eric Maynor.

In an interview with ESPN.com writer Chad Ford prior to the combine, Flynn blamed a broken ankle six years ago, when he was an eighth-grader playing for the Niagara Falls High School junior varsity, for stunting his growth. He cited his size-14 shoes and the other men in his family who hover around 6-foot-3 as proof.

“If Flynn sounds overly concerned about his height, it’s hard to blame him,” Ford wrote. “The NBA has historically shunned the little guy. There’s an unwritten 6-foot ceiling in the league that few players crack.”

It doesn’t seem like many talent evaluators share Flynn’s concerns. After watching a series of competitive drills, Ford reported, “Flynn continues to generate buzz with his combination of speed and power — even if he was the shortest guy on the floor. Every GM I spoke with now sees him as a lottery pick, with many projecting him in the Top 10.”

That sentiment was shared by many. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com called Flynn the most impressive point guard in Chicago, and Tyreke Evans, another likely top pick, said Flynn was the best player he matched up against last season.

Evans, a big guard from Philadelphia who played one season at Memphis, said Flynn was the reason Syracuse beat the Tigers in a December matchup.

“He can shoot the 3-pointer, he’s got a mid-range game, and he can finish on big guys,” Evans said, according to the Racine (Wis.) Journal Times. “And he makes his teammates better. He’s got the whole package.”

The newspaper also reported that “there is a growing sentiment among some NBA officials that the (Milwaukee) Bucks covet Flynn with the 10th overall pick,” and got confirmation from Flynn.

“(Coach) Scott Skiles told me what they thought of me and how they were high on me and how they needed someone at that position,” Flynn reportedly said. “He said he liked my toughness. Scott Skiles on the basketball court was tough, too, tough as nails. He said he sees a lot of that in me.”

According to Ford, the Sacramento Kings (pick No. 4), the Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 6), the Golden State Warriors (No. 7), the New York Knicks (No. 8), the Indiana Pacers (No. 13), and the Phoenix Suns (No. 14) are considering Flynn to fill a need at the point guard position.

Before Oklahoma City was awarded the third pick in the draft lottery, a Thunder scout called the Niagara Gazette office seeking background information from reporter Nate Beutel, who covered Flynn’s final two seasons at Niagara Falls.

E-mail reporter Jonah Bronstein at jonah.bronstein@niagara-gazette.com