The Toronto Raptors are at a bit of a crossroads right now, having been just two years removed from winning their first NBA championship. After staying near the top of the East in the 2019-20 season, Toronto fell off the playoff picture entirely in 2020-21. Nonetheless, their dismal campaign this past year rewarded them with the 4th overall pick in the upcoming 2021 NBA draft. Majority of mock drafts are billing Gonzaga star Jalen Suggs to fall to the Raptors.
Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham is the consensus no. 1 overall pick, while Suggs, G-League ignite guard Jalen Green, and USC round out the top 4. Mock drafts are all over the place in terms of who goes after Cunningham. Nonetheless, the Raptors should be more than satisfied to have the 6-foot-4 guard fall onto their laps at 4th. Many draft experts believe Suggs has the potential to become a face of the franchise for any team that lands him. Here are four reasons why Jalen Suggs would be a perfect fit for the Raptors.
1. Great decision-maker for Toronto’s system
Suggs should be the perfect lead general to run the point for Nick Nurse’s offense. He and Pascal Siakam should thrive off each other as a solid one-two combo. With Nurse running a system that is heavy on ball movement, Suggs should be able to locate the open man with his court vision and passing.
Jalen Suggs also makes sound decisions in the pick-and-roll and is able to make the right reads depending on how the defense plays it. He is adept at hitting the roller in his spot and this is where he and Siakam can do some damage. In addition, he also knows when to hit the corner when the low man commits to the roll man.
2. Terrific defensive potential
Suggs also presented promising potential on the defensive side of the ball, which should be music to the ears of Nick Nurse. While he probably won’t have the same impact Kyle Lowry had on that end of the floor, Suggs should still be able to bring some of the intangibles that the veteran did throughout his tenure in Toronto.
The former Bulldog has great athleticism to become a lockdown perimeter defender and his size and NBA-ready body could really help him in making a defensive impact early. In addition, the 20-year old moves well laterally that helps him stay in front of his man. Like Lowry, Suggs isn’t afraid to do the dirty work and makes hustle and energy plays that Raptors fans would love.
Jalen Suggs also possesses high I.Q. on defense, particularly in playing the passing lanes. The 20-year old has shown tremendous chops on when to do so and is often able to make the right reads on when to help and pounce for the steal. Nick Nurse should allow the feisty guard to roam free and gamble on these given Toronto’s strong defense and recovery.
3. Jalen Suggs could be the most exciting Raptors player since Vince Carter
This is a pretty strong statement considering the Raptors had greats like Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and even a year of Kawhi Leonard in the past. Still, this may very well be true when it’s all said and down.
Suggs should instantly bring a lot of excitement to this Raptors squad. He is an absolute dynamo on the open floor with his ability to burst to the basket with a quick first step. In addition, Suggs also has crazy bounce that allows him to soar for dunks and alley-oops. Just imagine how he could bring the raucous Raptors fans to their feet with a high-flying highlight.
Jalen Suggs is also terrific in finishing at the basket and does so with a lot of flare and athleticism. The degree of difficulty he finishes with on his drives to the basket makes for possible appearances on your SportsCenter highlight reels or daily top 10’s.
4. Changing of the guard
With the impending free agency of Kyle Lowry, the Raptors should easily give the reigns to Suggs as their next franchise point guard. The Raptors are far away from going back to championship contention. Therefore, it may be best for Toronto to take these next couple of years to build a foundation with Suggs as the franchise centerpiece. Perhaps this may be the right time for the Raptors to make a changing of the guard.
As much as he loves Toronto, parting ways makes sense on Lowry’s end as well. At 36-years old, it may not be in Lowry’s best interests to stick around for a semi-rebuild. Toronto will definitely miss Lowry and everything he brought to the franchise. He means so much to the city of Toronto and was their heart and soul during his time there.
Still, Raptors fans shouldn’t sulk too much as Suggs will be a great heir to hold down the point guard spot for Toronto over the next decade or so. Based on his defense, hustle, and energy, it’s possible for Suggs to replicate the kind of grit and heart that brought Raptors fans to fall in love with Lowry. If Jalen Suggs brings the give-it-his-all play and mentality to Toronto, it shouldn’t take long for Raps fans to shower him with the same kind of love.