Toronto Raptors

Svi Mykhailiuk has the potential to fill a need for the Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors continue to round out their roster ahead of the 2021-22 season.

On Tuesday, the Raptors announced that they have signed Svi Mykhailiuk to a multi-year contract.

The Los Angeles Lakers selected Mykhailiuk with the No. 47 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He was traded to the Detroit Pistons during his rookie season (2018-19), only to then be traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder this past season (2020-21). The Thunder rescinded his qualifying offer this offseason, making Mykhailiuk an unrestricted free agent.

Through 164 games (41 starts) in his career, Mykhailiuk is averaging 7.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

The draw with Mykhailiuk is his ability to space the floor. He's been a little up-and-down as a 3-point shooter to this point of his career, but around two-thirds of his field goal attempts have come from the 3-point line, and he's connected on 36.2 percent of those opportunities.

Standing at 6-foot-7, Mykhailiuk's size helps him get his shot off on the perimeter. He has a negative wingspan (6-foot-5) but makes up for it with a quick release.

In addition to being a spot-up threat, Mykhailiuk is a threat to score off of screens.

He's primarily a shooter in those situations...

...but he has shown the ability to attack defenders off the dribble when they press up on him.

While Mykhailiuk ranked around the league average in scoring efficiency off of screens last season, he finished in the 72nd percentile with 1.07 points per possession in 2019-20. His versatility as a 3-point shooter makes him primed to fill the Matt Thomas role on the Raptors, giving them a specialist towards the end of the bench.

Another area Mykhailiuk will fit in well with the Raptors is in transition. He's not one to consistently grab and go, but he runs the floor well, filling in the gaps as a shooter and cutter.

It's no secret that Nick Nurse is a coach who likes to get out in the open court. (Few teams have scored as many points in transition as the Raptors have since he's taken over). Playing in Nurse's up-and-down system shouldn't be much of an adjustment for Mykhailiuk, and he will share the court with a number of pace-pushers in Toronto whether he's playing next to the starters or is a part of bench-heavy lineups.

An encouraging sign: Mykhailiuk has grown tremendously as a finisher, bumping his shooting percentage around the basket from 45.5 percent as a rookie to 57.1 percent as a sophomore to 66.0 percent last season. He has a little more pop and burst at the rim than you might expect for someone known strictly as a shooter.

Beyond becoming a more reliable 3-point shooter, the biggest questions facing Mykhailiuk are two-fold.

One, how much more room is there to grow offensively? Mykhailiuk has been used primarily as a shooter since entering the NBA, but the Thunder did give him a lot more on-ball responsibilities in his short time with the franchise last season. He wasn't efficient, but Mykhailiuk flashed some potential as a creator for himself out of the pick-and-roll off of the strength of his shooting off the dribble. (He made 34.8 percent of his 3-point pull-up attempts and 41.5 percent of his 2-point pull-up attempts last season). He also showed some potential as a passer.

Between Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Goran Dragic, Gary Trent Jr. and Malachi Flynn, the Raptors aren't exactly short on ball handlers, but it certainly wouldn't hurt having someone else who can create in the halfcourt.

Two, how much of an impact can he make defensively? It's clear the Raptors value rangy wings who can defend multiple positions, and Mykhailiuk doesn't check those boxes. He picks up a decent amount of steals and is a willing defender, but he'll likely have to prove that he can hang in Nurse's aggressive defensive scheme to earn consistent minutes.

As noted by Blake Murphy, Mykhailiuk seems like a safe bet to land one of the four remaining guaranteed spots due to the reported player option in his contract.

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