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The Jalen Suggs Report

The presumptive 4th overall pick has enough upside for Raptors fans to be optimistic about the Post-Lowry era.

16 mins read
c/o: Alex Tansley

This will be a full analysis of Jalen Suggs which will incorporate stats and film to showcase the young prospect’s abilities.

I briefly covered Jalen Suggs, along with the other presumptive top 5 prospects in the draft, back in May — before we found out that the Raptors would be picking fourth overall. My excerpt on Suggs was also turned into a video that you should check out, narrated by the people’s champ: Samson Folk.

Seeing as the Raptors have now moved up, it naturally makes sense to expand upon Suggs’ game and explore what makes him such a great prospect.

The reason why I’m covering Suggs in-depth is actually pretty simple: it’s becoming increasingly likely that he will be the Raptors’ selection on draft night. Some are still floating around the idea of Evan Mobley or Jalen Green falling to the fourth pick, and I just don’t see it happening unless an absolute bombshell is dropped on us. Both have built sufficient steam to be selected in the top 3 with Cade Cunningham. According to The Athletic’s Zach Harper, Cleveland is “locked in” on Mobley at the third selection, and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony recently revealed that Jalen Green is only working out for Houston and Detroit. Expecting either Mobley or Green to be available is approaching overly optimistic territory.

There has been some smoke that “rival executives believe” that the Raptors are “considering” Scottie Barnes with the fourth selection, but I find it hard to believe that he will be the choice at four if the Raptors remain there. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has even said that his general sense is that the Raptors will be selecting Suggs based on what he’s hearing around the league. I’ll be elaborating further on this — as well as why the fourth pick is actually an incredibly easy decision — in the coming days, so keep an eye out for that.

For now, Jalen Suggs.

Jalen Suggs | 20 y/o | PG | 6’4 | Gonzaga | Archetype: Two-Way Point


Courtesy of tankathon.com

Offence

Discard the idea that Suggs has a low offensive ceiling. I don’t know why I keep seeing this incorrect rumour make its way through NBA circles. There’s a reason he’s a top prospect in a stacked draft, and it’s not because he has a low ceiling in any part of his game. He’s good at most aspects of the game, but not particularly elite at anything. This can give some evaluators pause when looking at Suggs, but I don’t think it’s really cause for alarm. It’s much easier for a prospect with a solid foundation to develop into a good scorer than it is for a completely raw prospect with little to no offensive game. He’s no doubt a weaker shot creator player than the likes of Cunningham and Green, but that doesn’t mean he can’t develop into a scoring option given the tools at his disposal.

Let’s start with the athleticism. Suggs can get UP.


…And it’s with his athletic gifts where he’s also able to showcase his creative finishing ability. Sure he can dunk it, but his layup package is also incredibly fluid and he has great touch around the rim. Blowing by players in the half court and finishing with a crafty layup while avoiding contact is one of Suggs’ signatures. He’s got a very quick first step and is one of the more explosive point guards I’ve scouted.

In addition to his slashing, Suggs has begun adding a floater to his game as well. Incredibly promising for his scoring upside.

An undeniable strength of Suggs is his transition play. His combination of strength and speed makes him a force running down the court. He’s capable of taking the role of the off-ball runner and catching the pass, or he can utilize his handle to break inside for the finish.


Suggs’ playmaking is top five in the class. It’s difficult not to get hyped watching him make long, whipping, cross-court passes in transition.
https://twitter.com/theScore/status/1346815029211922443?s=20
His vision is special, and his background as a top rated QB in football only helps him in this area.


He’s just creative as a passer. He doesn’t wait until the shot clock depletes before looking for an open man or only kick out as a last resort. If Suggs sees an open man, he’ll deliver the ball. Watch this play where he sends a sweet dime into the paint:

He’s also adept at finding open players in the corner:

…And in the PNR:

Defence

Probably the most rock-solid area of Jalen’s game that should have no problem translating to the NBA, Suggs’ strong, 205lb frame will allow him to body up bigger players, and his 6’5-6’6 wingspan lets him pick passing lanes and pin some shots to the backboard. He’s no OG Anunoby on this end, but Suggs does have a defensive ceiling approaching that of an All-Defensive player. Players shot just 33% when guarded by Suggs.

His footwork is excellent on the perimeter, allowing him to stay in front of faster guards. I’d place him as being able to guard both backcourt positions and smaller forwards capably. He’s strong enough where he won’t get completely shoved around by bigger players.


Raptors fans will love this one; he’s a hustler. A bulldog. He gives a damn.

1.9 steals per game in college, awesome anticipation and timing.


Suggs is also an excellent rebounder for his position, something the Raptors have desperately lacked of late.

Improvement Areas

Does he need work in some areas? Of course.

Half court offence is the big one. Most of Suggs’ offence came in transition. Developing an in-between game will be crucial to his game if he’s going to become a go-to scorer at the next level. He needs to work on adding a consistent pull up jumper, especially off the pick and roll, which he will be operating a lot of in the NBA. He can afford to develop his mid-range game as well. He showed some skill in the turnaround department, but any sort of stop-and-pop would be a nice addition to his arsenal. It’s hard to see Suggs reaching his potential if he remains mediocre in the half court. He possesses a solid handle, but it can be tightened. He let go of some easy turnovers and often lost control.

Speaking of losing control, there are times where Jalen fell too in love with his own speed. This resulted in careless turnovers in transition and several offensive fouls. Learning to slow down and play with more control will be major, but it’s something that should come as his game matures.

Suggs’ three point shooting isn’t as big of a concern as most are making it out to be. His form is mechanically good, and his free throw percentage (75%) bodes well in that area. That said, it’s still inconsistent. Expect him to be a low-mid 30’s shooter from deep his rookie season with enough range to keep opposing teams honest. He’s flashed a step back and ability to shoot off the dribble – there’s no reason why he can’t develop that, but it’ll require patience and reps.

Raptors Fit

This is assuming Kyle Lowry leaves in free agency. I think that’s where we’re headed, given the amount of suitors that have recently arisen for the GROAT, as well as the hefty payday that Kyle is looking for.

The great part about the top four picks in this draft is that they would all fit on the Raptors excellently. With Suggs, the Raptors would have an immediate replacement for Kyle Lowry. He would be the starting point guard for a new era of basketball in Toronto. There aren’t many players like Suggs — 6’4, athletic, a lead guard with excellent IQ on both ends, and dripping with tantalizing all-star upside. Suggs is a winner who seeks out clutch plays and big moments. Don’t believe me? Watch his Final Four game against UCLA if you haven’t already.

The Raptors don’t need him to be a star right away, nor should they expect him to be. It’s important to keep expectations realistic while Suggs adjusts to the NBA game. At the same time, this is the highest draft pick the franchise has had since 2006, and Suggs is the best prospect the Raptors will have a chance at since Chris Bosh, so naturally there are going to be some high standards. I’m not going to say he can be an MVP, but I think Suggs can live up to the challenge of being an excellent player and worthy of the fourth pick.

I don’t want to hear any talk about Malachi Flynn playing more minutes than Suggs, as the latter is already a better player. Suggs can work on or off ball, and could immediately start beside Fred VanVleet. This would allow VanVleet to move off-ball and stick to the perimeter where he would be better suited, and instead of having the 6 footer drive his shot into several opposing jerseys, Suggs could use his efficient finishing ability for that role instead. Being as young as he is, it’s not unlikely that a future backcourt of Suggs x Trent Jr. takes shape within the next few years as well.

Conclusion

Jalen Suggs is a top four player in this draft, and so he should be selected in the top four, plain and simple. On my personal board, he is ranked as the third best prospect behind Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. The Raptors would be selecting a point guard who would seamlessly lead a new era after Kyle Lowry, would be a starting level player from day one, and who the Raptors would be able to remain in control of for a decade at minimum. At 6’4, he would allow for even more versatile lineup construction and shows enough upside offensively that the Raptors should be comfortable developing him as a scoring option.

I would argue that those who believe Suggs is a “high floor/low ceiling” prospect are incorrect. “High floor/high ceiling” is more fair. When looking at his physical measurements, athleticism, all-around game, room for growth, winning playstyle, and work ethic, it seems plainly obvious that Suggs has room for several all star selections in his career if given the opportunity to produce… which he should get, especially due to the situation that he’d be entering in Toronto.

Suggs has carried his ‘unselfish leader’ reputation with him through high school and college. Watching interviews with Suggs and hearing how his family and teammates talk about him, it’s obvious that he’s a high character individual with an intense work ethic. In general, he’s just smart. I’m not going to use the word “culture” with Suggs because I dislike how that word tends to be thrown around by every fanbase in the league, but needless to say that there are very few concerns about Suggs on and off the court, and the Raptors are very lucky that they will have the opportunity to select him on July 29th.

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