Houston Rockets NBA Draft star potential #3: Jalen Suggs
Jalen Suggs, after Cade Cunningham, is probably the most famous player in this NBA Draft by virtue of his heroics against UCLA in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. The moment will live on forever in NCAA Tournament lore and will undoubtedly be replayed every year from here to eternity, or whenever the NCAA Tournament ceases to exist, next to the Christian Laettner shot and NC State’s airball to dunk to title moment.
Rafael Stone said he is looking for star potential but the type of star that Suggs already is not what he has in mind. There’s a major difference between being famous and an NBA superstar. Look no further than reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic. Jokic is one of the league’s best players, a superstar on the court, but his fame lags significantly behind his on-court abilities.
Jalen Suggs is an incredible prospect and the likelihood that he bombs are about as low as it comes. He has tremendous athleticism, competitiveness, basketball IQ, and projects to be a plus on both ends of the court.
However, the chances that Suggs is elite on offense or defense is not as high as the other two prospects. The first concern with Suggs is that while incredibly athletic his shiftiness and lateral quickness may limit his ability to be an elite ball-handler in the NBA, which is a must for high usage guards.
The second is that while his jump shot looks pretty, the results were hardly elite in college. For a one-and-done player that wouldn’t normally be much of a concern but Suggs’ collegiate career was far from ordinary.
He played for the best team in the country, loaded with future NBA players, at Gonzaga that played in a conference with next to no NBA talent. Suggs wasn’t dealing with contested shots all night as he will in the NBA so his shot-making will have to improve to be a go-to scorer at the next level.
As a total package, Suggs might be the second-best prospect but his star potential is what lags behind. His feel for the game will mean that he will always be a strong passer but without an improvement to his jump-shot and shot-creating tricks his offensive ceiling will be limited to a very good second-option.
In all likelihood, Suggs will end up as a Jrue Holiday-like player who helps his team win by doing everything well, while not being elite at anyone thing. Stars are elite. That’s just how it is. If the Rockets select Suggs they’re getting a great player, but they might not be getting the star that they want.
Next: Star potential #2