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After weeks of NBA mock drafts from mere eggs on Twitter to some of the top insiders in the league, Jalen Suggs is projected to be the most popular name in the Toronto Raptors war room on July 29.
NBA.com’s July 9 consensus mock draft, along with many others, has Suggs going number four to Toronto after Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Jalen Green hear their names called in the first three picks.
“Jalen Suggs Raptors” even came up on my Google search suggestions after typing his name – this must be a sign.
Other potential franchise players like Jonathan Kuminga, Scottie Barnes and Davion Mitchell will likely also be available for the Raptors before the first five selections are through.
The last time Toronto held the fourth overall pick, the Raptors selected Chris Bosh. Could Suggs be the second coming of Bosh, or maybe better?
Suggs rose to fame near the end of the 2021 NCAA men’s March Madness tournament when he scored, arguably, the most clutch basket of the year. Just when UCLA thought they were heading to overtime tied 90-90 against Gonzaga in the Final Four, Suggs carried the ball down the court with just seconds remaining – enough time to break the hearts of all Bruins fans across California.
The 20-year-old guard put up an unbalanced buzzer-beater three-point shot as the time hit double zeros and iced to game for Gonzaga, sending the Bulldogs to the national championship.
But Suggs’ impact on Gonzaga’s near-perfect season wasn’t seen in just one isolated play. He scored 22 points in the Final Four victory, which tied for the highest in the game.
During the tournament, Suggs averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game en route to earning an All-Tournament Team honours.
Athleticism and intangibles
Suggs is also a very athletic guard. Like many other successful athletes, Suggs was talented in two sports in high school: basketball and football.
Along with a football state championship in 2018, he won the Minnesota “Mr. Football” award when he quarterbacked his high school team, SMB Wolfpack, in 2019. Ohio State and Nebraska sent Suggs football scholarships but he ultimately chose to purse basketball at Gonzaga.
His quick thinking and ability to read a defence on the field could easily translate into superb court vision and other intangibles one may not find in a player who has only known basketball their whole life.
You know who else played both sports at a high level before deciding basketball was a better path? Allen Iverson.
Keep an eye on this kid – if you can catch up.
Fitting in with the Raptors
Kyle Lowry’s future with the Raptors is still uncertain and Toronto is actively looking for ways to rebuild their organization quickly.
The addition of a Suggs-type guard will fill a large gap if Lowry decides to part ways with the Raptors this coming off-season.
If Lowry does decide to stay for at least a season, Suggs’ presence will provide necessary depth on the roster. The young guard can also learn from Raptors veterans like Lowry and VanVleet in his rookie year and develop into who could be the future of this franchise.
Suggs’ ascent to the starting lineup won’t be a cakewalk, though. He’ll have to fight for his spot with both Gary Trent Jr. – if he re-signs – and Malachi Flynn standing in his way.