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Gonzaga Basketball

Former Gonzaga standout Jalen Suggs voted to NBA All-Defensive second team

Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs drives past Miami’s Kyle Lowry on Dec. 20 at the Kia Center in Orlando, Fla.  (Tribune News Service)

Jalen Suggs posted career bests in scoring average and shooting percentages, but it was his tenacious defense that often was a tone-setter for the Orlando Magic.

That didn’t go unnoticed around the NBA as Suggs on Tuesday was named to the all-defensive second team. The former Gonzaga standout guard received 18 first-team votes and 99 points overall.

Suggs is the first Orlando player since Dwight Howard to receive all-defensive team recognition. Former Zags forward Chet Holmgren, who was teammates with Suggs at Minnehaha Academy in Minnesota, received 21 points. Former Gonzaga standout forward Domantas Sabonis received four points.

Gonzaga has never had an all-defensive first-team selection, but Suggs and Holmgren appear capable of changing that down the road. John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time steals leader, was voted to the second team five times.

Suggs enjoyed the healthiest and most successful season of his three years in the NBA. He had career bests in scoring average (12.6), shooting percentage inside the arc (55.6), 3-point percentage (39.7) and steals (1.4 per game).

The 6-foot-5 Suggs, drafted fifth overall in 2021 by Orlando, tied for eighth in steals (106). He had at least one steal in 57 of his 75 games and two or more 31 times. He had a career-high six steals against Atlanta in November.

Suggs also blocked a career-best 47 shots. He tied his career high with three blocks against Miami in January.

Orlando finished 47-35 – the Magic won 22 games in his rookie season – and was the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. No. 4 Cleveland eliminated Orlando 4-3.

Suggs elevated his scoring average to 14.7 in the playoffs. He had 24 points in Cleveland’s Game 3 win and 22 points with six 3-pointers in a Game 6 victory.

He was first-team All-West Coast Conference and second-team AP All-American in his lone season at Gonzaga. The Zags finished 31-1, the only loss coming to Baylor in the 2021 national championship game.

Holmgren, who plays for Oklahoma City, blocked 190 shots, second in the NBA behind Victor Wembanyama’s 254. Wembanyama became the first NBA rookie to be named to the all-defensive first team.

Holmgren was third in the league with 11.6 contested shots per game.

Wembanyama was joined on the first team by Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis, Herb Jones and Bam Adebayo. Second-team selections included Alex Caruso, Derrick White, Jaden McDaniels and Jrue Holiday.