The Jalen Suggs era is off and running for the Orlando Magic and it begins with a 91-89 Summer League (overtime) win over the Golden State Warriors. The 5th overall pick lived up to the hype in his first professional game by demonstrating his entire skill set to Magic fans and the Vegas crowd at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Suggs wasted no time making an impression as he started the game with a pull-up jumper from the elbow, no problem. Then he flashed range with a three and grabbed 5 first quarter rebounds, skying and diving for loose balls with reckless abandon. He's always around the ball. As the game went on, he only got more comfortable and seemed to reach a different gear when it was crunch time. He's a tone-setter. You can see what separates him as a talent by watching him move around the floor. He demonstrates quickness, has the ability to change gears on a dime, and showed unbelievable bounce by registering 3 blocks. (One was in a pivotal moment late in the game while down 2 to 1 on a fastbreak.)
Even the shots he missed looked good. He exemplified decisiveness which led to winning plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor. The assist numbers weren't there on Monday night but his court vision was apparent and assists will come as chemistry builds. I'm already thinking about the "scary" potential of Suggs playing alongside lethal pick and roll/pop players and you hope those guys will eventually be Chuma Okeke, Wendell Carter, Moritz/Franz Wagner, and Mo Bamba.
Speaking of chemistry, the Magic starters looked disjointed to begin this game. There may have been some nerves and there were definitely turnovers. The three-guard set of Jalen Suggs (24 pts 9-22 FG, 9 reb, 1 ast, 2 stl, 3 blk, 2 TO), Cole Anthony (6 pts 1-9 FG, 6 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 3 TO), and RJ Hampton (9 pts 3-6 FG, 4 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 5 TO) didn't appear to mesh seamlessly but it's early and that's why these reps at the Summer League are crucial. It's equally important for brand new Head Coach Jamahl Mosley to have coaching points to go over with players in preparation for this coming season. Franz Wagner (5 pts 2-8 FG, 6 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl) didn't do anything flashy necessarily but you can see his potential. I believe he will eventually make his open threes and his frame should play nicely in the NBA with the ability to put the ball on the floor.
The plus/minus stats matched the eye test and indicated that the Magic starters weren't as efficient as the bench unit. It was the bench who seemed to play free and easy, keeping the starters in position to execute down the stretch. Iggy Brazdeikis led the reserves with 12 points and the 6'8" 29-year-old Latvian product Janis Timma added 11 points on 3-5 shooting from three point land. He was was a fan-favorite on Magic Twitter because of his exuberant appearance. He sports bright blonde hair and is sleeved up with tattoos. Hassani Gravett and Jeff Dotwin each had 9 points respectively off the Magic bench.
For the Warriors, 7th overall pick Jonathan Kuminga (16 pts 6-16 FG, 6 reb, 1 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk) showed his upside with a few power moves and dunks. 14th overall pick Moses Moody (15 pts 6-13 FG, 4 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl) also showed positives. Kyle Guy (15 pts 4-10 FG) and Gary Payton II (11 pts, 8 reb) had solid games for the Warriors as well.
Don't sleep on the Las Vegas Summer League! Selfishly, I wish it were still in Orlando so I could attend this year but it's great for fans as we get a preview of what to expect from young talent in the coming season. Most importantly, it's an opportunity for these young players to adapt to the physicality and speed of the game in the NBA. Jalen Suggs already seems like the face of the Orlando Magic and the era is off to a good start. I'd say the two Jalen's and Scottie Barnes have been most impressive in the early going in the Summer League.