Projecting Jalen Suggs' NBA future after phenomenal freshman season
If Michael Jordan owns "The Shot," Jalen Suggs owns "The Bank."
The legendary, game-winning, bank 3 that Suggs hit to send Gonzaga to the national championship game has already overshadowed a remarkable freshman campaign from the Saint Paul, Minnesota, native.
In addition to that last-second 3 against UCLA, Suggs racked up 16 points, six assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block in 40 minutes against the Bruins in the Final Four, but that kind of all-around performance was commonplace for Suggs this season.
For Gonzaga, Suggs averaged 14.4 points on 50.3% shooting and added 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists, helping Mark Few's unit win 31 of its 32 games. The one loss just happened to take place in Monday's national title game.
As quickly as Gonzaga's hopes to complete an undefeated season went out the door, the chatter regarding Suggs' NBA potential moved into the spotlight.
On Tuesday morning, Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe discussed what type of player Suggs will be on the next level, with Bayless comparing him to two of the other presumed top picks in the upcoming NBA draft: Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham and USC's Evan Mobley.
"I like how he fought back [on Monday] night. He would not stop. He would not take no for an answer. He kept beating his chest, and I like that. ... But I have to compare him to what I saw from Cade Cunningham. Cade Cunningham is just much better than Jalen Suggs is. He's 6-foot-8, 220 pounds. He's got lots more game to him. ... I just think he'll go No. 1 overall."
Added Bayless: "We saw Evan Mobley have one big game to shine in, against Drew Timme, and he couldn't do it, but he is long and gifted. He's got really sweet moves to him. He's effortless. ... Would I take him second overall? Yeah, I would."
Bayless also dispelled the idea that Suggs could be the next Dwyane Wade, coming up with what he believes to be a more apt, current-day comparison.
"I get it in spirit, in fight, but Dwyane Wade was an explosive scorer in college. ... Think about what Josh Hart did for the Lakers and does for the Pelicans? He plays like this kid does. He gets up in you on defense, and he just plays his tail off. ... I think Jalen Suggs is a little better than [Josh Hart] but not a lot better."
Sharpe took the conversation a step further, admitting that Suggs will be a solid pro but stopping short of calling him a franchise-altering NBA talent.
"When you talk about lottery – and a lot of people have him going in the top three – you're talking about an All-Star, All-NBA-caliber player. I don't know if he's that. ... He better be a point because if he's a combo guard, he needs to be Dame [Lillard] or [James] Harden or Kyrie [Irving] or Russ [Westbrook] or Donovan Mitchell. Do you see any of that?"
Needless to say, the NBA is chock-full of talent at the guard positions, meaning Suggs could be really good and still not be as good as the greatest to handle the rock.
But given Suggs' performance in the Final Four – and over the course of the season – the pressure will be on him to be the future of an NBA franchise at the point guard position, challenging those great guards with a few years' head start on him in the league.
ESPN's Seth Greenberg, for one, thinks he's up to the challenge.
"You can put him in an NBA game right now, and he can lead a team."
FOX Sports' Jason McIntyre, in his latest NBA Mock Draft, has Suggs going fourth overall. But there is still time for Suggs to move above Jalen Green (projected No. 1), Cunningham (projected No. 2) and Mobley (projected No. 3).
For Suggs, the NCAA Tournament wasn't a bad start in his quest to climb up the draft board.
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