After a month out due to a hamstring injury, Jalen Green’s much-anticipated return gave Houston Rockets fans everything they could have asked for. In 25 minutes he scored 20 points and shot a red hot six of nine from 3-point range.
The rookie’s triumphant return was an early Christmas present for the Rockets and portends a strong second half. Before we get into his performance against the Pacers, let’s quickly look at Green’s season before he left their November 24th game against the Bulls with an injury.
Jalen Green’s first 18 games for the Houston Rockets
The first 18 games of Green’s career were predictable, but also quite disappointing. He averaged a solid 14 points per game but got there on incredibly inefficient shooting. He shot 38.2-percent from the field and 27.8-percent on 3-pointers.
Self-generated offense is the most difficult skill in the NBA, which is why it is one of the most coveted. Green flashed the ability to create open looks for himself, but his inability to get the ball into the hoop regularly made it a moot point. At the end of the day, creating good looks doesn’t matter if points don’t follow.
As a 19-year-old rookie, facing the toughest competition in the world, it was expected for Green to struggle early in his NBA career. Matters were made worse by questionable lineup decisions, such as starting two centers and surrounding Green with next to no shooting.
Throwing a rookie, born in 2002, into an offensive environment with the spacing of the 1980s was a recipe for disaster. Through it all, Green was still able to produce some jaw-dropping performances. He posted four 20+ point games and looked well on his way to another when he pulled his hamstring in the first quarter with 11 points.
With rookies, you have to take the good with the bad. It should have been the expectation that Green, early on, would have more bad than good.