Orlando Magic Rookie Jalen Suggs Practices with Team and Draws Nearer to Return

Jalen Suggs
by Dan Savage

ORLANDO – Jalen Suggs took a major step in his rehab process on Tuesday as he resumed practice with the Orlando Magic.

The No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft suffered a fractured right thumb in Orlando’s comeback effort in Philadelphia on Nov. 29. With just under five minutes to play in that contest, Suggs drove to the basket and was met by Sixers center Joel Embiid, who swiped for the ball and in the process came down on his hand. The team announced shortly afterwards that the Gonzaga alum suffered a fractured thumb, would miss the rest of the game, and would be reevaluated once the team returned to Orlando.

Suggs has subsequently missed the Magic’s last 19 games. Although unable to take the floor, he has traveled with the team and focused his attention on soaking up as much information as possible while going through his rehab process.

“He’s used the time, obviously, sitting with the coaches, studying film, understanding things on the sideline,” Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley said. “You’ll see him sometimes get up and throw suggestions and things that he sees. I think that’s fantastic. Our guys are so engaged with one another that they understand what we’re asking them to do.”

While the injury has limited his ability to focus on shooting and ball handling with his right hand, he’s used the time to transform his body in addition to his mind.

“He’s grown physically, changes in his body,” said Mosley. “He’s used this time off very well.”

Prior to the injury, Suggs was starting to get even more comfortable on the floor. In addition to emerging as one of the league’s best pick-and-roll defenders, he scored in double figures in seven of his final eight games. Upon his return, he will look to build on a campaign where he's averaging 12.3 points, 3.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.

“There’s still time. It’s kind of like a pre-offseason during the season,” said Suggs, shortly after his injury. “I get to take time to work on my game, watch film and really dive deep into what was going on those first twenty games while I was in and learn from them. Get my wind back up to an even higher level than it was. Then, when I come back, I hope to perform at an even higher level than I was when I went out.”

Joining Suggs at practice on Tuesday was Magic point guard Markelle Fultz, who continues to hit milestones in his rehab process from a devastating ACL injury in his left knee.

Although Fultz’s return is not considered imminent, Suggs could potentially play as soon as the backend of the Magic’s upcoming road trip, depending on how he responds to practice sessions. How his thumb responds to constantly catching, handling, and shooting the ball will factor into the speed of his return.


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