Four months after Jonny Flynn signed to play this season in Australia, no one can argue that the former NBA point guard didn't make the right move by taking his talents international. Not only have the Melbourne Tigers improved their postseason chances thanks to Flynn's All-Star season, but the former 6th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft is showing his days in the league may not be over just yet.
When Jonny Flynn first took his game "Down Under", his new head coach Chris Antsey sat right next to him during the press conference in early November and smiled widely explaining how fans of the Melbourne Tigers would see the former NBA point guard enjoy his new situation because Flynn would finally have the free license to play.
"Finally" was the key word after Flynn watched himself shuttle between Minnesota, the D-League, Houston and Portland since entering the league as the 6th overall pick in 2009. Likely the envisioned game plan: get some run in Australia, put up some numbers and then take advantage of another offer in the NBA.
Four months later the question now becomes, what is the exact expiration date on that "free license" in Australia for Flynn?
He's making the most of the experience that's for sure.
Melbourne was 1-4 before Flynn joined the team and have gone 6-6 since his debut with the Tigers, with the organization eyeing a postseason run. You couldn't have said that pre-Flynn. In his 12 games played, Flynn is averaging 17.3 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 34% from 3-point and 41% from the field. Couple that with Flynn's All-Star appearance -- 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 10 assists in the South's 134-114 win over the North All-Stars in December -- and the decision to reclaim his game on an international level has worked in Flynn's favor thus far.
We are talking about a guy who went from starting 81 games his rookie season in Minnesota to being a toss-in forgotten commodity around the league in a very short period of time. Concerns lingered about his overall health (stemming from a hip operation in 2010) and NBA pedigree, but how can you fault a 23-year old for not growing if on-court and in-game development isn't the reality of his situation? It's hard to get better if your only physical contribution to an NBA game is waiving a towel from the bench.
And that's the best part about Flynn's journey playing in Australia.
It's not only provided a personal boost of confidence to Flynn, but also put teams on notice in the NBA -- and Europe as well - that his stock is on the rise.
Flynn's name had been associated with the Los Angeles Lakers during their "Steve-less" era back when point guard's Steve Nash and Steve Blake worked to overcome their own health woes in LA, but instead of those worries of just losing Flynn to the Lakers fans around Australia's NBL are simply left to wonder if Flynn really is one-and-done after this season in Melbourne and heading back to the NBA.
"We knew coming in we didn't expect it to be a multi-year thing," Anstey said two weeks ago after Flynn came off a season-high 27- point performance against Sydney.
"We expect him to be very highly sought after, especially having a full season of playing under his belt...We think he's great. We're enjoying him while we have him here because we don't know how long that will be."
Anstey can only hope he will have Flynn for the full season. However such wishful thinking doesn't always translate to a sure thing. Whenever news spreads about an NBA team encountering point guard health issues or making general backcourt roster moves, just know there is a certain head coach down in Australia holding his breath that a certain agent doesn't call to inform him that a certain player is exercising a certain NBA opt-out clause in his contract.
"He gets an NBA offer, he'd be crazy not to take it," Anstey added.
"Until we hear anything officially we take it with a grain of salt, but in the back of our minds we know it could happen."
Flynn battled a groin injury over the last couple of games but shook off any troubles to play the entire second half and finish with 21 points in Melbourne's Saturday win over Cairns, 67-64.
It was another game in the books for Jonny Flynn in Australia.
But how many more games will there be?