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Houston, Cleveland or Toronto likely destinations for Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs after NBA lottery

UPDATED: Tue., June 22, 2021

Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs scores against Pacific during a Jan. 23 game at the McCarthey Athletic Center.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs scores against Pacific during a Jan. 23 game at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Former Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs doesn’t know where he will begin his NBA career, but he has a much better idea after Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery.

Suggs is projected in the top four in nearly every NBA mock draft. Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham is the probable first pick, which means he’s likely headed to Detroit, which came out of the lottery with the No. 1 selection.

The most likely destinations for Suggs, barring trades or something unforeseen, appear to be Houston at No. 2, Cleveland at No. 3 or Toronto at No. 4. USC center Evan Mobley and NBA G League Ignite’s Jalen Green join Suggs in the 2-4 range, according to most draft analysts.

The lottery results didn’t help the chances of Suggs joining his hometown Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves needed to be in the top three to retain their pick. Instead, Minnesota landed at No. 7 and relinquished the pick to Golden State as part of the D’Angelo Russell trade to the Timberwolves in 2020.

Former Zag Corey Kispert is projected as a first-round selection and could possibly go late in the lottery (top 14). If the 6-foot-7 wing becomes a lottery pick, the most likely spots are No. 10 New Orleans, No. 11 Charlotte, No. 12 San Antonio, No. 13 Indiana and No. 14 Golden State.

The 6-4 Suggs seems to fit with any of the teams picking in the top four. Houston, at No. 2, could opt for Mobley with John Wall handling point guard. Wall, who has battled injuries the past two years, averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists in 40 games last season, but his future with the Rockets is uncertain.

Cleveland could add Suggs to a talented young guard line that includes Collin Sexton (24.3 points per game last season) and point guard Darius Garland, who played at Vanderbilt when Gonzaga assistant coach Roger Powell Jr. was a Commodores assistant. Garland averaged 17.4 points and 6.1 assists is his second season with the Cavs.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Suggs going to Toronto with the fourth pick.

Kyle Lowry has been Toronto’s starting point guard since 2012-13, but he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, one of the reasons he declined an invite to play for Team USA in the Summer Olympics. He averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds last season.

Suggs would “fit in very well with what the team already has in place on the court and give them a potential star to build around in the backcourt as the Kyle Lowry era likely comes to an end,” Givony wrote.

Givony’s post-lottery mock draft has New Orleans selecting Kispert at No. 10.

“New Orleans had a disappointing season defensively and hasn’t been able to surround Zion Williamson with enough shooting to adequately space the floor,” according to Givony. “Kispert is one of the best shooters in the draft, and looks ready to make an immediate impact with his size, skill and experience.”

Givony projects former Gonzaga forward Filip Petrusev going at No. 40 to New Orleans and Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi at No. 56 to Charlotte. Petrusev played professionally last season in his native Serbia.

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