5 Interesting Jalen Suggs Questions Going Into the 2021-22 Season

by Josh Cohen

1. Will he start on opening night, and will he get significant minutes all season?

Every rookie is a “project” on some level. But some are bigger projects than others. Some, and we believe Suggs falls into this category, are a little further along in their development. Of course, that’s not to say Suggs won’t make major leaps from year one to two, year two to three, etc. That’s the goal for him, as it is for every young player. But it was clear during his one-and-done season at Gonzaga and in his 2 ½ games in Las Vegas at summer league that he’s capable of producing right away. Brought up in this “5 Interesting Things About the Magic Going Into the 2021-22 Season” feature, Jamahl Mosley will have some tough decisions to make about the starting lineup. With Markelle Fultz working his way back from injury, it’s likely going to be either Cole Anthony or Suggs starting at the one on opening night. No matter whether he’s a starter or not, in the first game and/or beyond, Suggs is expected to get significant minutes throughout his rookie campaign.

2. Will he in year one be more known for his offense or defense?

One reason why Suggs was a top five draft pick is that he plays at a high level on both ends of the floor. Playing on a loaded college team, which Gonzaga certainly was last season, has its pros and cons. On one hand, not as much is expected for each individual player. Sometimes that makes it more difficult to identify what they can or can’t do. On the other hand, it forces individuals to coexist with other top-tier talent and learn to play as a unit. There aren’t many flaws in the 20-year-old’s game, even if some of his skills were a bit hidden in college. He just needs to sharpen them. It’s his defensive focus and commitment that could separate him from his peers, though.

3. What is his most underrated strength?

Already touched on is his tenacity on defense. He has great size and speed, particularly in the open floor. No secret as well is his playmaking. Many have said passing is his best skill. He has a nice touch on his floater when he attacks the paint. More attention, though, needs to be put on his rebounding. He averaged 5.3 rebounds per game in college and 6.3 of them in his 2 ½ games at summer league last month.

4. How will he fit alongside the Magic’s other guards?

You’ve probably heard before that 3-point shooting is at a premium. That is true because it creates advantages with spacing, although among the top seven teams in 3-point attempts last season four didn’t make the playoffs and two were ousted in the first round. Probably more of a premium skill is playmaking. The more ball movement there is and the better a team executes, the sharper the offense. It’s going to benefit the Magic having as many quality playmakers as they do. What we should see, particularly once the team is at full strength, is a ton of adaptation and unpredictability. Dual-point guard lineups are more effective now than ever as it leads to less stagnation. It’s going to be fun to watch lineups featuring some combination of Suggs/Anthony/R.J. Hampton and then ones with Fultz mixed in after he returns.

5. Which players might he ultimately play like?

In pre-draft analysis, there were a wide range of players Suggs was compared to. One was Jason Kidd because of the vision and playmaking instincts. Another was Chris Paul because of his cleverness and game management traits. Jrue Holiday was a comp because of the on-ball defensive pressure he applies. Eric Bledsoe was mentioned because of the speed and explosiveness. Suggs’ movements, particularly in the pick-and-roll, remind some of Brandon Roy. Those are/were great players, so taking bits and pieces of each would be ideal for the Magic newcomer. No matter his play style, though, the key for him is to not rush his development. Patience is critical for him to ultimately reach his ceiling.


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