Houston Rockets: historical comparisons for Jalen Green #2
Median: Zach Lavine
Here, we land on one of the two most common modern-day Green comparisons; the other being Bradley Beal. The Beal comparison, frankly, does not hold up to scrutiny. Beal does not have Green’s length or other-worldly athleticism, and in the same breath, Green would be fortunate to ever develop shooting mechanics as pure as Beal’s. Lavine, on the other hand, makes for a useful current NBA comparison.
Lavine also has the same shortcomings that Richardson had, and Green may: playmaking and defense. This results in similar statistical deficiencies: Lavine has yet to post a positive DBPM in his young career, and while his career-best 4.9 assists per game last season is an improvement on Richardson’s high water mark, they hardly qualify as impressive.
Why, then, is Lavine the median comparison for Green? The answer is simpler than any advanced stat: more buckets. Simply put, Lavine’s 27.4 points per game last year dwarf Richardson’s career-high of 23.2. That matters. It may also explain why Lavine’s overall Box Plus/Minus of 3.7 last season surpassed any mark throughout Richardson’s career.
Simply put, Lavine and Richardson are similar players: Lavine just happens to be a little bit better at the thing they're best at. Jalen Green profiles as a similar player to each and fans should hope that he skews closer to Lavine.
It’s also worth noting that pundits were skeptical about Lavine during his first few NBA seasons. Many observers questioned whether the NBA Dunk Contest champion may end up being the most meaningful accomplishment of his career.
He came into the league unpolished, with a shaky handle, questionable shot mechanics, and a low basketball IQ. The work Lavine has put into his game, and the strides that have come with that work, are tremendous. Fortunately, Green enters the league looking a little more developed than Lavine did, but if he wants to elevate to the heights his ceiling comparison did, he’ll have to have a similarly legendary work ethic.