Jalen Suggs shows he is a championship-caliber player

Jalen Suggs left it all on the floor in the loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jalen Suggs left it all on the floor in the loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

103. 38. 106. 20. Final

Anybody who actually watched the Orlando Magic game on Monday knows that Jalen Suggs was the star of the show in Los Angeles.

Not everything he contributed showed on the stat sheet, but he made his presence felt against the Lakers.

And, yet it still felt like he left something out there. Rather, he felt like he left something out there. The enduring image of the game was Suggs with his jersey over his face in disappointment and teammates surrounding him after he missed the potential game-tying three in a 106-103 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Orlando Magic’s first loss of the season.

There were big performances in the game and plenty of questions about the late-game execution, but nobody could question Suggs’ heart or desire to win. He missed two critical shots down the stretch, but the Magic were not in a position to win without him.

The Orlando Magic suffered their first loss of the season, but the heart and soul of their team has become abundantly clear as they establish their defensive identity. Jalen Suggs is clearly a winning player.

Suggs was the team’s third leading scorer with 15 points in a game where both teams had trouble shooting the ball. He also put up eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and the highest plus/minus on the team at +10.

Suggs made a lot of winning plays on both ends of the floor and showed he can impact winning in all ways. He played the best overall and well-rounded game out of anyone this season. He made plays that scream playoff basketball and even show potential for a playoff run.

Suggs’ impact can not be measured by the box score. Anyone who looks at it will see his numbers, but not understand the impact he truly had on this game.

Suggs struggled to shoot at just 4 for 12 and 3 for 7 from three. It is hard to imagine someone being pleased with that performance. But it should be exactly what every Magic fan was hoping for.

He shot the three ball extremely well, making 3 threes on 43-percent shooting. This is really great especially for Suggs and his career 27.1 percent three-point shooting. He also shot the ball with confidence and took good shots. You love to see improvements in Suggs jumper early on in the year.

Suggs’ aggressiveness was a refreshing sight to see. Although not everything was falling it was nice to see him try and take over.

Shots will fall eventually in the season, it is still early. But it is great to see Suggs so aggressive in this game. His improved confidence is going to take his game to the next level. These were just his contributions scoring the ball, which may have been his smallest contributions.

His passing this game was special to watch. Although he had only two assists that led to four Magic points, he was the best distributor in the game. He had plenty of hockey assists, which is pass to assists. Every time he had the ball and did not shoot it, he made sure to move it and keep the offense flowing.

Smooth offense was a struggle for the Magic last year but Suggs did it with ease, he kept the ball moving and got his teammates involved and his intensity could be felt through the TV screen.

Defensively his impact was just as important if not greater. He was only credited with one steal, but there was multiple occasions where he forced turnovers due to his high pressure and intensity defense, but he did not get credited with a steal. NBA.com’s hustle stats credited him with a team-high six deflections.

He also did a great job with his matchup Austin Reaves. Reaves shot 5 for 12 and 1 for 4 from three. Suggs was constantly pressuring out at the three point line every play and his aggressive defense caused havoc for the lakers offense and made it hard for them to get things going.

What stood out the most this game and was by far Suggs’ greatest impact was his rebounding and hustling. He recorded eight rebounds — three offensive and five defensive. But every time the ball came off the rim Suggs was near.

He even showed visibly that he was exhausted from running around all night. At the end of the game you could see him with his hands on his knees gasping for air, this was a symbol of how much effort and heart he was putting into this game.

Eight rebounds is already an outstanding numbers for a guard, but it was his hustle for rebounding that really stood out.

Every play regardless of what team shot it it seemed like Suggs tipped it or was fighting for it off the rim and he was always in the area. He ran around all game chasing every rebound and forcing the Lakers bigs to have to secure every rebound.

There was tons of effort plays where Suggs was not credited with a rebound, but forced someone to tip it back to the Magic or out of bounds. His effort and hustle level was inspiring to watch and seemed to be contagious on the court for the Magic.

The most important part of Suggs’ night was that he was at his best when the game was on the line. He stepped up in crunch time and almost won the Magic the game single handedly at the end. His sequence of plays at the end of the game was phenomenal.

Despite his shooting struggles, Suggs showed no hesitation in taking a three with two minutes left in the game that gave the Magic a 103-101 lead late in the fourth quarter.  Then with the Magic down one with 20 seconds, left he secured a rebound out of a scrum on the floor after a much-needed stop.

On the offensive end he drove in and got his layup blocked. That may not look like a positive but it was.

Suggs made a great drive to the basket on a play that arguably could have been called a foul on any other night. Although it was blocked and resulted in free throws for the Lakers, his effort and aggressiveness should be widely noted and applauded by the young star.

After the Lakers made both free throws and brought the lead up to three, Franz Wagner attempted a three that got deflected by LeBron James. Who else but Suggs came up with a huge clutch offensive rebound? He had the presence of mind to dribble it out to get himself a great look to try to tie the game.

Although it did not go in and the Magic fell short, he created a great look for himself off of a hustle play, and his effort almost saved the game. He looked visibly upset after missing the game-tying shot which shows how much he cared about getting this win.

That is all you can ask for out of one of your starters.

Every play in the game seemed to run through Suggs. Offensively, it seemed like if he was not scoring he was everywhere passing the ball, and every shot that went up he went and fought for another chance. It also seemed like he was guarding every player and almost tipped every pass on defense.

Suggs earned his place in the starting lineup and it was clear the impact he could make even in the preseason.

He showed that not only is he here to stay, but he can impact winning like very few players can. He made hustle plays on both sides of the ball that resembled a Marcus Smart, Derrick White or a Patrick Beverly. All extremely important starters and role players on championship teams.

He is the kind of player who plays hard on both sides of the ball, hustles and impacts winning games. That is exactly what Suggs did and showed he can do again. It was not his shooting that impressed, but his effort levels, and that is something he can contribute every game regardless of if he can get it going on offense.

Suggs showed he wants it just as bad as anyone else in the league does, and it seems like he is maturing as a player. He is learning his role and excelling at it, and that is the scariest thing for most players, when they understand their roles and how to be the best at it.

Next. At least the Orlando Magic brought the star back. dark

Suggs was and is going to continue to be one of the most important players on the court for the Magic regardless of if it shows up in the box score. Suggs showed he can compete and play with anyone in this league.