The Washington Wizards are picking squarely in the middle of the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Whether Washington trades up, down or stays firm at No. 15, here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who the Wizards could consider selecting.
2021 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jalen Suggs
Position: Point guard
2020/21 stats: 30 G, 14.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.3 bpg, 50.3 FG% (5.2/10.3), 33.7 3PT% (1.2/3.5), 75.4 FT%
Player comparison: Chauncey Billips
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 4th, Sports Illustrated 4th, Ringer 3rd, NBADraft.net 4th, Bleacher Report 4th
5 things to know:
-Jalen Suggs is the best true point guard in the class. He's a past-first PG that has a perfect blend of unselfishness and the killer instinct to take over games when needed. At Gonzaga, he was the best player on one of the two best teams for the entire season. A great basketball IQ and vision have him a full tier ahead of several of the other point guards being drafted this season. Both are on display in essentially every offensive and defensive possession.
-If you haven't heard it by now, he played quarterback - a nugget used on essentially every broadcast. But, he wasn't just a passer in high school. ESPN rated him a four-star, dual-threat quarterback that could have played on a Power 5 program. Clearly the skillset of a QB and a point guard are similar and are advantageous to Suggs as he continues his career.
-Suggs was the feature of one of the best NCAA Tournament games of all-time - Gonzaga vs. UCLA. On top of several highlight-reel plays made throughout the game, there are two that are going to stick throughout his career. First was his block and needle-threading bounce pass in the midst of the back-and-forth contest.
Both of his best skills are on display: his full defensive capabilities and his vision especially in transition. The other is his composed buzzer-beater in overtime to give the Bulldogs the win.
-Defensively, he has all the traits of an elite defender at the NBA level. His build, his footwork, his agility can have him square up against any guard or wing. And his basketball IQ has him reading plays two passes beforehand. If needed, Suggs can be a complete ball-denier, while also helping with deflections in a half-court setting. His lone year at Gonzaga, Suggs averaged 1.9 steals per game.
-Before committing to Gonzaga, Suggs had options from several professional teams overseas. Ultimately, he chose the Zags to play for "the best coach in the country" in Mark Few.
Fit in the NBA:
As an elite floor general, Suggs will look to continue playing point guard at the next level. He's probably more prepared for the NBA than many other prospects this year and in years past and would not need a veteran or an adjustment period before a team sees dividends.
It's tough to say if he can be the guy on a rebuilding team, as he has never been in a position like that before. The signs to him being able to succeed are all there, but with Gonzaga, there were so many versatile scorers that even a point guard of lesser skill could have put up numbers. There are some games where he disappeared from the score sheet throughout the season, which could cause concerns. But again, Gonzaga was one of the most dominant NCAA teams in quite a while. Suggs didn't need to pour on the stats. He did, however, when it was called upon.
Whoever drafts him will want the ball in his hands. Whether as a starter or off the bench, it is hard to have his vision and IQ be in a secondary role.
There will need to be some competent wings that can knock down the three ball. It is still an element of Suggs' game that could see a considerable improvement. Either way, he projects to be able to contribute to any offense.
For any of the top five teams in the lottery except perhaps the Cavaliers, he could contribute and/or be a potential upgrade. An ideal fit, even though they have John Wall, is the Rockets who have a ton of scorers and run an offense that will allow him to attack the rim.