Entering the NBA draft, Jalen Suggs was highly touted for his ability to hit big shots and step up for his team during crunch-time situations with the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Suggs delivered once again, but this time it was with his new team.
He produced a game-high 24 points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots, two steals and one assist on Monday to lead the Magic to a 91-89 overtime win over the Golden State Warriors. He went 9-of-22 from the field, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range.
Suggs came up with several key plays as the Magic erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime and ultimately win. He came up with a crucial defensive stop on a 2-on-1 situation with less than 30 seconds left to prevent the Warriors from scoring and taking the lead.
His 3-pointer with 8:43 left gave Orlando its first lead of the game.
“The guy is a hooper. He is always ready to hoop and ready to play,” said Franz Wagner, who finished with five points and six rebounds. “I think his real personality comes out in the games. He had a great game today and I’m sure he is going to have a couple of more during the season.”
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) August 10, 2021
From the moment the contest tipped off, Suggs was ready to go.
He revealed afterward that he hadn’t really played in a 5-on-5 setting since the national championship game in April. He wasted no time getting to work, scoring the first five points of the game for the Magic as he was seemingly everywhere on the court.
He also hauled in five rebounds during the opening period.
“I felt like a little kid on Christmas,” Suggs said. “It was so much fun getting out there and running again and getting into a rhythm and flow.”
Jalen Suggs did it all in his Summer League debut:
✨ 24 PTS
✨ 9 REB
✨ 3 BLK
✨ 2 STL pic.twitter.com/lQKppClkOk
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 10, 2021
To prepare for his first game, Suggs spent much of the past two days watching film to get a feel for the speed and uptempo pace. Players often notice the faster game speed in their first action, and that was the case with Suggs on Monday.
It was definitely different. The actions were different, the physicality was different. The past day and a half, and especially all morning, I was watching a ton of film of different NBA games, different players.
I watched a ton of pick-and-roll actions on a bunch of different players (like) Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and Devin Booker with the way he gets to hit spots. I really just tried to watch those guys and see how they move and control their pace and try to emulate that today.
The arrival of Suggs created plenty of buzz among Magic fans and those within the organization, and the fifth overall pick did little to slow down that excitement. The performance may have come in summer league, but Suggs showed that he has the potential to be a franchise-changing player.
After several draft miscues over the years, the Magic will certainly take it.
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