Jalen Suggs Rumors: Raptors 'Overwhelmingly' Expected to Take Guard in 2021 NBA Draft

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 25, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Jalen Suggs (1) sets up the offense during the men's Jimmy V Classic college basketball game between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and West Virginia Mountaineers on December 2, 2020, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With Kyle Lowry hitting free agency, the Toronto Raptors might be looking at his heir apparent in Jalen Suggs.

ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported those around the NBA "overwhelmingly" expect the Raptors to select the Gonzaga star with the No. 4 overall pick.

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic projected Suggs to wind up in Toronto but reported Florida State wing Scottie Barnes was a potential target for the team.

Fred VanVleet averaged 19.6 points and 6.3 assists this past season. He's so far justifying the four-year, $85 million extension he signed with the Raptors last fall. 

But VanVleet has probably hit his ceiling in the NBA. He's a valuable guard, but one who's unlikely to have an All-Star or All-NBA breakthrough.

Over time, Suggs might eclipse him on the court. In the short term, they'd form a similarly electric partnership that Lowry and VanVleet had. In his only season with the Zags, Suggs averaged 14.4 points, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals.

The 20-year-old guard might be able to contribute right away in a meaningful way, too.

The Raptors winning 27 games was largely due to a confluence of factors including having to play thousands of miles away from home in Tampa, Florida, and seeing both players and coaches briefly ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols.

Though winning a title in 2022 is probably a bridge too far for Toronto, a return to the playoffs won't be out of the question even if Lowry signs elsewhere.

Guards often struggle the most with the transition to the NBA because they're tasked with running the offense. Suggs is good enough that he could slot into the backcourt alongside VanVleet and help the Raptors in their push back into the postseason.


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