Jalen Suggs is a freshman guard that gained national popularity as he led the Gonzaga Bulldogs to the National Championship Game this April. The second-team All-American from Saint Paul, Minnesota is looking to make an impact on an NBA roster right away. Suggs is a big name entering the 2021 NBA draft.
Jalen Suggs 2021 NBA Draft Profile
Suggs began his collegiate career with a bang, scoring 25 points and adding eight assists in a 102-90 win over the Kansas Jayhawks. Mark Few’s team had high expectations for the 2020-21 season, so the pressure was on the young point guard to produce from the start. Suggs did not disappoint, averaging 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists for the season. He was also strong defensively, averaging nearly two steals per game. The 6’4” point guard shot over 50% from the floor and made 75% of his free throws as well.
Suggs’ celebrated run at Gonzaga included plenty of hardware. As a freshman, he made both the WCC All-Freshman team and the first-team All-WCC squad. He was a consensus second-team All-American and made the NCAA All-Region and All-Tournament teams. In the WCC tournament final, Suggs scored 23 points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished 5 assists against BYU. This performance cemented his place on the WCC All-Tournament first-team and got him named the MVP for the tournament.
National Team Career
Suggs has been a part of the US National Team program since 2017. In the 2017 FIBA Under-16 Americas Championships, he averaged 7.5 points and 2.8 rebounds. Team USA would win the gold in this event. At the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup, Suggs averaged 8.7 points and an impressive 3.3 steals per game en route to another gold medal. He averaged 9.6 points in the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup, scoring 15 in the final, where the United States would again win the gold.
Suggs is a skilled offensive player. He handles the ball fairly well and has incredible court awareness for his age. He has shown the ability to make great outlet passes on fast breaks and picks opponents apart in pick and rolls. Highlight reels frequently show this nice passing touch, with Suggs often setting up his teammates with a beautiful bounce pass. He attacks the basket without fear and shows nice touch around the rim. His athleticism and height allow him to slam home an alley-oop about as easily as he can lob one up.
Defensively, Suggs can impact the game greatly with his ability to create turnovers and push it out quickly on the break. He averages multiple steals per game and his size and athleticism again come into play here. Suggs can be a stifling defender, with opponents shooting only 33% from the floor against him last year. He is tall for a point guard and his leaping ability can turn into more blocked shots in the future. Suggs is also a good rebounder for his position, averaging more than five boards per game in college.
When Suggs’ name comes up, many think back to the 30-foot overtime buzzer-beater that sent Gonzaga to the National Championship game. While the bank was open for this particular shot, the young guard did not shy away from the moment. His fearless mentality could very well lead to more clutch shots like this in his future.
Suggs can shoot from the outside but is still inconsistent beyond the arc at this point in his career. He tends to shoot better when set and still needs to improve when it comes to creating his shot in that regard. The former Bulldog has decent handles, but he can be a bit loose with the ball at times. He’ll need to improve this aspect of his game if he is going to have a successful NBA career as a starting point guard.
While Suggs has shown that he has a gift for passing, he needs to work on limiting his turnovers. He averaged 2.9 giveaways a game last year and NBA defenders will likely give him trouble early in his career. His previously mentioned loose ball-handling isn’t the only culprit here. Suggs had several instances this season where he turned the ball over due to a charging call. He is explosive on his way to the rack but needs to learn when to come in with more control to limit these turnovers.
Another minor point for improvement comes from Suggs’ free throw shooting. Some players in the NBA today would love to shoot 75% from the charity stripe but if Suggs is going to be the primary ball-handler for a franchise he needs to be in the 80-90% range.
NBA Player Comparison
When looking at Suggs’ game, a few NBA comparisons come to mind. Pound for pound, the closest comparison to date is Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday. Holiday had similar strengths and weaknesses coming out of UCLA. When looking at the size, passing, and defensive abilities of each, the similarities are clear. Suggs is starting his NBA career with a slightly more polished offensive game than Holiday. The incoming rookie will need to add some muscle to his defensive game if he hopes to follow the former Bruin’s path to an NBA title. Suggs checks all the boxes and should find himself a regular starter in the league for years to come. If he can improve on the current weak spots to his game, he very well could be a consistent All-Star.
Jalen Suggs 2021 NBA Draft Projection
Early First Round, likely Top-Five
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