“I didn’t want to look back and regret not taking one final chance at making the NBA.”
The opportunity cost of choosing the NBA D-League over an international contract is sizable. Numerous players have told me they will not consider staying stateside due to the monetary loss they will have to endure.
Scott Suggs understands and acknowledges that it’s a risk, however, it’s a risk he’s willing to take to reach his dream of playing in The Association. He pulled no punches when explaining why he has signed with the D-League again. “I’m here to try to take another shot at the NBA, man.”
This is the standard response, yet Suggs said it with such conviction that it caught me off guard. The D-League is in many ways an extended tryout for the NBA. Scouts and executives from all 30 clubs are constantly on watch for the next player who can help their franchise at the next level.
But why leave guaranteed money on the table for the slim chance of getting an NBA deal? Simple. Suggs is betting on himself and he’s put in the work. He knows there’s a real opportunity that he could not pass up.
“I’ve got experience. I know what to expect from the travel to the smaller crowds. I know how to build my own energy and go out and perform on a nightly basis. I’m ready for this.”
Suggs is no stranger to NBA auditions. He played the 2013-14 season with the Erie BayHawks, averaging 18.5 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point land. His strong play earned him an international deal with Chalon in France’s top league, where he continued his strong play appearing in 35 games and averaging 10.1 points a night.
Since 2013, Suggs has played with four NBA clubs during Summer League including the Washington Wizards earlier this summer in Las Vegas. He’s yet to land an NBA deal but he’s confident in his increased experience and improvements he’s made to his game over the last couple seasons.
“I was lucky to have some veteran guys with me in France and they really showed me the way,” he said. “They showed me how to be a pro and how to fine tune my craft on the practice court. Honestly, they taught me how to get better plain and simple.”
The real task at hand for a player like this is to prove that you excel at something consistently, and that you are not a hindrance in any other facet of the game. At 6-6, Suggs projects as a shooting guard in the NBA and he’s proven he can knock down the long ball — he shot 40 percent on 6.3 3-point attempts per game during last go round with the D-League.
After obtaining his player rights in their expansion draft, Suggs will suit up for the newly minted Raptors 905 this season. It’s a vital pickup for the 905 as starting a roster with a solidified player in this league will assist in jump starting their inaugural season.
Last year, the Westchester Knicks only had one of their expansion draft players suit up — Ben Strong. The 905 have already matched that with Suggs signing with the league and, according to head coach Jesse Mermuys, there could be more to come.
A lot guys look at a return to the D-League as a chore, but Suggs is legitimately eager to come back. “I’ve never been to Toronto and I’m excited for that,” he told me. “There’s a lot of buzz around the team since they’re new. I’m 25 and I turn 26 in November and I’m really just excited to get back into the league and go to work.”
The 905 will likely see it’s fair share of NBA prospects on assignment, so it will be interesting to see how first-time head coach Jesse Mermuys allocates the minutes. While this may be looked at negatively from an outside player’s perspective, it gives NBA brass a chance to see someone like Suggs play next to NBA players. If he’s able to hold his own, that’s another notch on his belt.
Suggs had no problem hiding his intentions when it came to the D-League, though. When the topic of the D-League Showcase (which is in January) came up, he cut right to the chase: “Honestly, I hope I don’t see you there.”