Houston Rockets: Ranking the top-five 2021 NBA draft prospects
Houston Rockets Draft Prospect #5: Jalen Suggs
Jalen Suggs had the good fortune to go deeper in the NCAA tournament than any other prospect on this list. Part of that run included an incredible game-winning shot to send his Gonzaga Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament championship game in a moment that will forever live in the annals of NCAA history.
All of the extra media exposure and that singular clutch shot have elevated Suggs in the hearts and minds of basketball fans everywhere. However, Suggs, by the slightest of margins, is the weakest of the five prospects.
Part of what drags him down is that he is difficult to evaluate as he was on one of the greatest college teams in history and played in a conference with little NBA talent outside of his own teammates. On top of that, Suggs wasn’t asked to shoulder a massive load night in and night out, which won’t be the case from whatever team that drafts him.
What makes Suggs a tantalizing prospect is his combination of athleticism, feel for the game, defensive upside, and competitiveness. His jump shot looks pretty but the results weren’t great in college as he only shot 33.7-percent on threes and 76.1-percent from the free-throw line.
Suggs jump shot won’t hold him back but it is not guaranteed to be an asset either, which will put pressure on his ability to get to and finish at the rim as well as his playmaking. Suggs’ assist numbers were good in college but it’s tough to know how much of that had to do with his teammates and the offensive system.
His playmaking might be a plus long-term but it could take him a while to pair gaudy assist numbers with an acceptable number of turnovers in the NBA. Suggs talent is undeniable but he needs to improve his left-handed dribble and ability to laterally attack defenders.
His ability to get to the rim and by defenders, right now, is dependent on his overall speed when dribbling with his right hand. He projects as a good defender, but as always, it will take a while for him to reach his potential on that end and his lack of length could limit his defensive versatility.
Suggs’ athleticism and skill are apparent but of all the potential top-5 picks he has the lowest physical package. His raw athleticism is better than Cade Cunningham’s but he is much smaller and not nearly as long. Suggs has all the traits to be an elite player but he could be in for a rough transition to the NBA.
Suggs is in the delicate position where he doesn’t have the highest upside of this quintet and he isn’t the most likely to make an immediate impact. He’s an awesome prospect but if the Rockets land the fourth pick they should probably pass on him in favor of number four.
Next: Houston Rockets Draft Prospect #4