An analysis of Jalen Suggs through his first four NBA games



ORLANDO – Jalen Suggs, the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, now has four games in his NBA career and there is already a lot to love about his skills and long-term potential. The key to the future is efficiency, as he only shoots 28.8% from the field and 26.1% at 3 points. However, with each game his percentages have increased, so this is a promising sign that he is becoming more comfortable with the flow of the attack.

Where he wasted no time in making his presence felt, it was on the defensive side of the floor. In fact, opponents are shooting 31.4% from the field and 20.7% from beyond the arc while he was the closest defender, according to tracking data from Second Spectrum. Both on and off the ball he has been a threat, making it extremely difficult to release his opponents.

We notice very early on how well he does well on the screens and contests the shots.

Suggs’ greatest strength in Gonzaga was his passing. He has an elite view of the court and is extremely selfless. It’s already clear that he and Franz Wagner, Orlando’s other prized rookie, have a great connection. Considering Wagner is exceptional for cutting to the basket, Suggs spotted him a few times rushing inside.

In the pick-and-roll, he exhibits good balance and recognition while playing at a suitable speed. While it remains to be seen how electric he can be of a scorer in the pick-and-roll, he has a knack for identifying holes in defense as he operates in midfield, a bit Chris Paul-esque. He makes excellent pocket passes to the rollers and his kickout passes to open shooters have been on target. Its post-entry flows are also crisp.

Getting back to the standout aspect of things, Suggs had a great appearance that he just missed. He fell short of a few of his floats, a shot he is very confident to take. Most importantly, however, is that it sails well on the ground while also looking for space, a bit Damian Lillard. The question here is whether he can develop a soft touch from different ranges. Can he master the high tear? It’s Trae Young’s bread and butter. Can he create enough separation and drill setbacks consistently? This is what made Lillard so deadly.

The more aggressive he is towards the hoop, the more dangerous he will be. Finishing on contact is something the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder should excel in his career.

His long range shot looks very sharp. It has a nice shape on the sweater. Again, how reliable can it be from the depths? Late in the game against Miami, he sank a triple from about 28 feet. Just taking these shots is a good sign. He’s not afraid to let it rip.

An escape game seems inevitable in these next releases. Even though he didn’t shoot the ball well, his overall numbers were impressive. He scored in double digits in all four games, flirted with a triple-double in the home game against the Knicks and his 15 points against the Heat tied a team high.

He has been guarded by several elite defenders so far, including Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry in the Miami game. Fighting with guys like that is going to help him in the long run.

“It will be something he has to face every night,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said. “These are great opportunities for him to continue to grow and improve and to see the game and understand the game knowing that he will have some of the best defensemen on him. As we move on and get into more games, he’s going to see these type of defenders, and he’ll be able to figure things out and we just have to keep putting him in position to be successful. “