Everyone with the Orlando Magic certainly held their breath after Jalen Suggs came crashing to the ground in the second quarter of Friday's game against the Boston Celtics.
It was a typical play from Suggs and typical for him to throw his body directly into the fire. He is going to play with reckless abandon that is part of who he is.
Suggs was not going to let Payton Pritchard have that easy layup. He was going to go up and swat it and worry about the landing later. That is where Suggs injured his left wrist, unable to brace his fall properly and landing hard on his hand.
A roll of tape later and a quick X-ray to confirm there was nothing wrong and Suggs was back in there trying to be a wild man once again. And he certainly was -- and was again when he had that role of tape back on his left wrist and left fingers again.
If Suggs can walk, Suggs can play. This is the essence of who he is. Just as much as creating highlight-reel plays with his effort and energy. That is why he was back out on the floor Sunday even with a sprained left wrist.
The challenge is channeling that into something efficient and productive on offense considering the chaos he creates on defense. Everything has been slowly coming together.
"I think that's just how I've always played," Suggs said after the win over the Toronto Raptors in late November. "I don't really know how to play the game any other way. The beauty is I get to work on how to harness it and apply it in different situations. . . . Part of it is just that's how I play. Seeing the boys get energized and stand up cheer for me when I do it makes me want to do it again."
There has been a lot of cheering with Suggs. He has always been energized by a big defensive play as much as a big offensive play.
Those offensive plays are starting to come much more frequently.
What everyone probably did not figure or notice was that while Suggs was constantly flinging his body at offensive players and generally causing chaos defensively, he turned in a career-best 3-point shooting performance Friday. And while no one expects Suggs to hit five 3-pointers in a game regularly, his shooting and offense have been a lot better and more consistent than anyone expected.
Suggs scored 19 points in Friday's game against the Celtics, making 7 of 12 shots and 5 of 9 3-pointers. He had 13 points on another 5-for-9 shooting performance (only 1 for 3 from three) and was the only player aside from Paolo Banchero's 36-point effort to score in double figures Sunday.
Suggs is becoming a far more productive offensive player, averaging a career-high 12.5 points per game while shooting a career-best 46.7 percent from the floor and 38.2 percent from beyond the arc. That 55.8 percent effective field goal percentage is by far the best of his young career.
Something has flipped with him on the offensive end.
"I think what you are seeing is the body of work he put in this summer, the time he spent with our coaches, going back home and getting work in," coach Jamahl Mosley said before the Orlando Magic's win over the Washington Wizards on Dec. 1. "He is constantly working at it. I think anybody you see make a jump like that, it is the result of the hours when nobody is around. And he has done a ton of that."
Suggs put in a lot of work with this healthy offseason. He spent a lot of time focusing on his mental health and focus with Arnie Kander -- you can often see Jalen Suggs going off to the side with Kander for breathing exercises after he comes out of the game in the first quarter especially. Suggs is playing with a lot more poise and control.
Some of his biggest highlights have come on the offensive end -- remember his mimicking of Dwyane Wade on the lob to Cole Anthony against the Washington Wizards? Suggs was also waving goodbye to the Boston Celtics after a critical three in that game.
Suggs loves playing off the crowd. That has always been a big part of him -- even when he shouted down some Chicago Bulls fans as a rookie after a massive jam. Suggs has always been an emotional player.
It is easiest to see this with how much his 3-point shooting has improved this season. The percentage is way up as is his ability to hit those all-important catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.
According to NBA.com's tracking stats, Suggs is hitting 41.9 percent and a 59.5 percent effective field goal percentage on his spot-up shots this year. He was at 32.5 percent shooting and a 43.3 percent effective field goal percentage last year.
Further, Suggs is hitting on 42.5 percent of his 3.2 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts per game this year according to Second Spectrum (second on the team behind Joe Ingles!). Last year, he was at 34.8 percent on 2.1 attempts per game.
This has been the product of a lot of work and focus to reach this level.
"We put in a lot of hours this summer to work on that side of it," Suggs said after the win over the Raptors. "Defense is natural. That comes easy to me. That side is really where I wanted to improve and grow and show that side of the game is something that I can also bring. Just trusting my work. Trusting all the work that we put in, believing in myself as much as my teammates and my coaches do."
Defenses may still be treating Suggs as the non-shooter he was the last two years. But that is quickly going to have to change with the way he has improved from deep.
Suggs is hitting shots with much more consistency. He has played with a lot more poise and control. And it is clearer now what his offensive potential can be. Suggs is not a superstar player by any means, but he is reliable for a Magic team that just needs consistent floor spacing and someone who can put pressure on the rim.
Suggs has grown in this area. And everyone can notice it.
"On the offensive end, he is making himself a serviceable shooter," former Gonzaga teammate Corey Kispert said after the Magic's win over the Wizards on Nov. 29. "He is a threat from behind the line and he plays like a maniac on defense."
That was always the challenge with Suggs. Orlando knew it had something in him defensively almost immediately. He earned his place on the court despite his shooting struggles and injury issues early in his career because of this.
Suggs' defense has become a constant for the team. It is one of the hallmarks of this team and its success. Suggs has put his name into the hat for an early All-Defensive team appearance and has become the heart and soul of the team with his energy on that end.
But the real growth for him has come with his offense. Performances like the ones he had this weekend are becoming more commonplace. And Suggs has become a much more reliable offensive player.