A new era of Houston Rockets basketball kicked off last night when Jalen Green and the Rockets took on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Summer league play. Green showed why he was the number two overall pick and why he may be the best player in the draft.
Green displayed his vast offensive skills from his quick first step, stepback jumper, and elite balance. Green helped lead the Rockets to an 84-76 win, finishing with 23 points on 50-percent shooting. It was evident early that Green's time down in the G-League helped mold his overall game as he showed playmaking skills and good off-the-ball defense, poking the ball away several times.
Yes, it is just one Summer League game, and you normally can't take too much away from the results. Most of the players playing in this tournament will not be on an NBA roster, but occasionally a player comes along who displays skills that will translate against any competition.
Green is that player, and he has displayed that he is not just a highlight reel but a complete offensive player. Here are the 3 skills that Green possesses that make him a special talent.
Houston Rockets: Trait #3 that makes Jalen Green special - Balance
An aspect that is not talked about enough when evaluating a young player or any player is a players' ability to keep their balance on drives and when creating shots for themselves. Throughout his young career, going all the way back to high school, Green has demonstrated the ability to stay in his shooting position no matter the defense or where he is on the court, as the below video will demonstrate.
As you see, Green was able to get to his spot and not only get his shot off but stay under control even with the defender in his face and little to no room on the baseline. Remember, Green is 19 years old and already making shots that 10-year veterans struggle with at times. Balance isn't always about standing straight up and down. It's about being able to get off a clean shot while fading away or performing difficult shots.
Houston Rockets: Trait #2 that makes Jalen Green special - Ability to create space
The biggest difference between the NCAA and the NBA is how fast, strong, and long players at the next level are. NBA defenders can make up more ground, and the shots you can easily get playing at the college level are a lot harder in the pros.
Creating space is so important for players if they want to become elite scorers in the NBA. In this clip below, you will see how easily Green creates separation to get off his mid-range shot.
Green's ability to keep his balance and foot placement help him create the separation you see in the clip. Once again, Green is 19 years old, with skills you normally see from seasoned NBA veterans. Green can get off a clean shot even with good defense. and that's one of the traits that make him special
Houston Rockets: Trait #1 that makes Jalen Green special - Ability to score in traffic through contact
Another special aspect of Jalen Green's game is his ability to score in traffic through contact. Whether it's a slippery move where he contorts his body or powering through defenders, Green knows how to get his shot off. In the NBA, Green will be going against players with as much athletic ability, quickness, and strength as him.
This will be the first time in Green's life that he may not always be able to jump over defenders or blow past them on a drive. Sometimes he'll have to go through them or get around them in very tight spots. Green's athleticism helps, but he also knows how to play different angles on drives, and he can handle contact and still finish around the hoop, as seen in this clip.
Even when bumped, Green can keep his balance and control while finishing at the hoop. The defenders are in the correct position and he either dunks over them or slithers his way to the basket. This trait will one day help him lead the NBA in scoring because he already has All-Star level athleticism and shooting.
You can never take too much from one Summer League game. We have seen players look like All-Stars in the Summer League but never pan out in the NBA. However, Green is different. His skills will translate against G League, Summer League, or NBA-level talent. This makes him a special talent and possibly the best player to come out of the 2021 NBA draft.