Gonzaga star Jalen Suggs could go No. 1 overall in 2021 NBA Draft

By Vincent Frank

For pretty much the entire recently-completed college basketball season, Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs was considered a lock to go in the top-10 of the 2021 NBA Draft. The guard is a tremendous asset on both ends of the court and proved himself worthy as a freshman for Gonzaga.

With that said, most experts had Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham as the top pick in this coming summer’s NBA Draft. After Suggs led Gonzaga to the National Championship Game, that might no longer be the case.

“One GM I spoke with said he would consider taking Jalen Suggs first overall. Why? It’s because Suggs possesses a rare combination of special tools: Elite playmaking, lockdown defending and an overall competitiveness that helps transform an entire team’s DNA,” ESPN’s Jordan Schultz noted on Tuesday.

This comes on the heels of the Bulldogs getting blown out by Baylor in the title game Monday evening. It’s a game that saw Jalen Suggs score a team-high 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. Remember, the 6-foot-4 guard sent Gonzaga to the championship round after hitting a buzzer beater to defeat UCLA in the Final Four.

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Is Jalen Suggs worthy of the first pick in the 2021 NBA Draft?

Jalen Suggs, 2021 NBA Draft
Mar 30, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Jalen Suggs (1) goes up for a shot against the Southern California Trojans during the first half in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A top-seven recruit in the Class of 2020, Suggs put up a stellar freshman season for Gonzaga. He averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals on 50% shooting from the field. The combo-guard was also called on to defend the opposing team’s best backcourt player throughout the season. He excelled in that regard, too.

Whether Suggs is worthy of the first pick depends heavily on who actually wins the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery. It also depends on how teams view the aforementioned Cade Cunningham and whether Jalen Green’s performance during the NBA G-League season resonates.

As of right now, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets boast the best odds of acquiring the top pick at 14%. They are followed by the Orlando Magic (12.5%) and Washington Wizards (10.5%).

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If Minnesota were to acquire the top pick, it means that the team’s future first-rounder to the Golden State Warriors would be unprotected in 2022. That could lead to a potential trade down with all three of the top prospects guards. The Timberwolves selected guard Anthony Edwards No. 1 in the 2020 NBA Draft and just got D’Angelo Russell back from injury.

As for the Pistons and Rockets, both are in full-scale rebuild mode. They’ll likely just go with the top available player on the board. The same thing can be said for Orlando after its fire sale ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Perhaps, the Wizards would be a tremendous fit for Jalen Suggs as they look to find a future running partner for Bradley Beal.

Either way, this is a very interesting curveball ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft.