2023 Orlando Magic Player Outlook: Jalen Suggs still growing, improving

Jalen Suggs made a big statement to close the Orlando Magic's win over the Chicago Bulls and perhaps grab Orlando Magic fans' attention. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Suggs made a big statement to close the Orlando Magic's win over the Chicago Bulls and perhaps grab Orlando Magic fans' attention. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

Even though Jalen Suggs has yet to even start 50 NBA games, it seems like he is already the fearless leader of this team.

Orlando’s fifth pick of the 2021 Draft had his rookie season cut short, but he showed flashes of defensive stardom and offensive improvement.

Still, the offseason was spent asking questions about Suggs. His shooting was suspect at best and injuries remained a big part of his story with two injuries forcing him out of the lineup for some time already to start the season.

Suggs’ talent is apparent — defensively, the Magic believe he is already an elite-level defender. But so are the frustrations that come with a guard who struggles to shoot and is not consistent with his decision-making.

Still, even in a small sample size of 48 games, Suggs has proven himself worth the investment. There were things to build on in a rookie year where he averaged 11.8 points, 4.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game all at just 20 years old.

Jalen Suggs’ rookie year presented both promise and frustration. His second year for the Orlando Magic will look to build on his positives and work through his difficulties.

Suggs is a player who can do so much — as he showed in scoring 15 of his 26 points and getting two steals off Stephen Curry in the closing moments of Thursday’s win over the Golden State Warriors. This second season might simply be about highlighting his best attributes while continuing to work and build on the shooting elements he will

After seeing his 360 dunk last year, it was clear to see why he could be the Magic’s guy.


He might not be the Magic’s leading scorer night in and night out, but he brings energy and leadership to a young hungry team that desires what he has. And that counts for something.

The task for Suggs and this young improving team is to find some consistency. That is most evident in Suggs who can be brilliant one moment and frustrating the next.

Suggs began this season in the starting lineup and had 21 points, three assists and two steals. He went on a scoring binge in the third quarter that included hitting four 3-pointers, his supposed weakness, that was important for keeping the team in that game.

But he also ended that with four turnovers and six fouls. A pretty solid game with some things that needed to be worked on.

As has been the case with Suggs, his momentum gets stopped due to an injury. A sprained ankle in the team’s second game sent him on the shelf for five games.

He returned Tuesday to play the Oklahoma City Thunder, contributing nine points, four assists and two steals. He was clearly getting his legs back under him, but he made some critical errors down the stretch that cost the team the game.

The Magic are so versatile that coach Mosley can run whoever the hot hand is at the moment to win the game. Suggs is capable of having that hot hand. But the team’s depth will leave the Magic making decisions by committee and based on matchups and whoever is hot that particular night.

That is what happened Thursday night when Suggs was frustrating in many ways early but kept in it with some strong defense against Stephen Curry and his matchup. This was before he made his burst at the end of the game to close things out.

Suggs finished with a career-high 26 points adding nine assists and four steals (he also had four turnovers).

With Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony still out, it was good to see Jalen Suggs back on the court running with most of the team at full strength. At this big moment, the Magic trusted Suggs to make decisions and plays to deliver a win to the team. He stepped up showing the potential he has.

The Magic have been relying on the rookie Paolo Banchero to be the best player every game. He is very capable of that but opponents will adapt to that quickly if there are no other threats in crunch time.

This is where Suggs shined, he hit clutch shot after clutch shot going back and forth with Curry to carry the Magic to an upset victory.

There were multiple times when he was in the right place at the right time and got a pick-off or an on-ball steal to thwart any thought of some late-game heroics from the Splash Bros. He works well off of Paolo Banchero and the other players to spread the floor.

As much as Suggs struggled from beyond the arc last year, he has seemingly made improvements — although he is just 7 of 24 from deep to start the season. And the threat of an outside shot should open up his ability to get to the basket where he is good at absorbing contact and drawing fouls.

Suggs is not a perfect player by any means. He has areas of his game that need improvement.

One of the main flaws in his game is his tendency to turn the ball over. Any great guard will turn the ball over just because of the sheer amount of times the ball is in their hands, they are bound to make a mistake more.

Suggs is averaging 3.5 turnovers per game to start the season. There are some real questions about whether he can be a lead guard or should work more off the ball.

Suggs may well work better off the ball than being the primary focus of the defense when bringing the ball past half-court.

He still has to improve overall as a shooter. Keeping his attention to detail and focus on his shooting, especially at the free throw line, will help open up his game more. There are just a lot of points left on the board — he was 6 for 11 from the foul line in Thursday’s win.

This is definitely something he could improve on throughout the season. He is still young and has yet to accumulate even a full season of NBA games under his belt. Improving in these areas now will prevent them from becoming irreversible problems in the future.

A player like Suggs does not come around often. He is a leader who guides with his actions and seems to have wisdom beyond his years.

If he can improve on some key areas in his game and stay healthy the sky is the limit. He seems to mesh well with the culture of the team and players and should be a cornerstone for the success yet to come.

Next. Jeff Weltman will make his final evaluations this season. dark

The entire team is evolving with each other and there will be growing pains as any young team would have. Suggs is going through those growing pains too. But he is a player who is sure to keep improving throughout the season.