Jalen Suggs – The Next Elite Perimeter Defender

Not too long ago there had been talk about how Jalen Suggs was going to turn into a bust considering his shooting struggles and lack of playmaking. But then, slowly but surely, Suggs turned his season around as a defensive-first guard who brings energy off the bench. And when I say Suggs has turned into a defensive-first guard, I mean it. He has a Defensive RAPTOR rating of 3.5, right in line with the likes of known dynamos of Lu Dort and Nic Claxton. That is ELITE company.

Check out Suggs in the top 10 according to FiveThirtyEight’s DEF. RAPTOR rating:

When you throw on some Jalen Suggs tape, it’s not like he is Pat Bev running around tricking everyone (sorry to Pat Bev, just using the expression). Suggs is actually moving his feet, staying in front of his man, playing with active hands, and getting blocks and steals while not hunting for defensive stats.

Below are examples of Suggs displaying defensive awareness on rotations and help defense:

A huge aspect of Suggs’ success isn’t just getting steals and blocks, but his energy that fits in perfectly with the young core of the Orlando Magic. Suggs isn’t getting pigeonholed to become something he’s not, which last year it seemed like Orlando was trying to see if he would be a playmaking lead guard with high scoring potential. Instead, once Suggs came back from an early season injury, he put his head down and stuck to the basics and it’s helped him find his niche.

Plays like what you see below are a perfect indicator of what Suggs brings energy-wise on a game-to-game basis:

Going forward, I 100% expect Suggs to become a serviceable 3 point shooter, as his form isn’t horrible and his work ethic is through the roof. If his shooting splits can be 50/35/75 then we are talking about an All-Defensive player that can play 30+ minutes a game alongside huge scoring threats like Banchero and Wagner. The talent is there for him to be an absolute stud and have the same overall impact as guards like Marcus Smart. Jalen Suggs has the all the tools and I can’t wait to watch him develop for the Magic the rest of the season.

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