Why the Houston Rockets should select Jalen Suggs in the NBA Draft reason #1: Two-way upside
Until the NBA figures out how to devalue the 3-point shot, perimeter defense will only continue to grow in importance. In these playoffs, the league’s two best interior defenders, Rudy Gobert and Joel Embiid, were either spaced out of the paint or picked on and rolled on as both of their teams were upset by a lower seed.
This isn’t about Gobert or Embiid, but rather the four other players that surround them. It’s near impossible to have an elite playoff defense if you have one, let alone multiple, leaky perimeter defenders. Players like Gobert and Embiid can cover up a lot of mistakes but they can only cover so much of the floor.
Jalen Suggs projects to be a plus perimeter defender with the ability to handle both guard spots. Elite defensive ability on the perimeter is the new rim protection. With fewer and fewer post-ups, teams are generating shots at the rim through spacing and drives. And the players best equipped to stop those shots before they ever happen, reside on the perimeter, not in the paint.
As much potential as Suggs has on the defensive end and as a playmaker, his scoring ability has been slept on considerably. Suggs’ offensive bag, his moves and counter moves to beat defenders, is not as advanced as someone like Cade Cunningham or Jalen Green, but he hardly needed a bag in college.
He’s an incredible athlete with great burst and size that allowed him to attack the rim and finish through contact. His bag will expand in the pros and will only be aided by his athleticism which should see him develop into a dangerous scorer.
However, the biggest concern with his offensive game, right now, was the inconsistency of his jump shot. In one season at Gonzaga, Suggs only shot 33.7-percent on 3-pointers and 75.4-percent on free throws but his shot has good form and fluidity which portends growth as a shooter.
What’s interesting is that Suggs’ college stats and scouting report, as a shooter, closely mirror one of the league’s best scorers, Bradley Beal. In Beal’s lone season at the University of Florida, he shot 33.9-percent on threes and 76.9-percent on free throws, but his shooting form and fluidity made scouts confident that he’d be a plus shooter at maturity.
Add in the fact that they were both listed at 6’4 or 6’3 and weighing a little over 200 pounds and there’s a roadmap for Suggs to become an elite scorer. Suggs, outside of Cade Cunningham, has the best chance of being a plus on the defensive end, as a scorer, and as a passer in this draft.
Two-way players are the key to championships. The two teams in the NBA Finals, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns are both full of players who can impact the game on both ends of the court. Jalen Suggs might never be elite at any one thing, but if you’re good at enough things, the total package can be.