Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green has had a decent season, showing flashes of what he could be and, it needs to be remembered, he is still a very young rookie. However, Green has started to figure out the NBA and has recently begun to turn his shortcomings into strengths.
Green has had a decent season for the second overall pick in the draft, who skipped college to play with the G-League Ignite team. He has averaged 15.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists, with less than stellar shooting efficacy, shooting 41% from the field and 32% from three. It wasn’t expected that Green would come out and set the NBA world on fire. The thought was that over time, he would grow and get better, and hopefully, by next season, make a giant leap.
Green’s first step towards that leap appears to have already started. Since the All-Star break, Green has taken a massive step forward in almost every stat. He has averaged 20.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in the last nine games, shooting 49% from the field and 35% from three. Oddly, his free throw percentage is down from 82% before the All-Star break to 64% in the last nine games, but that should fix itself over a larger sample.
This is already the first step for Green to reach his full potential, and it isn’t even the end of this rookie season. He started slow, dealing with injuries and a different level of competition, but has begun to find his path, which is all you can ask for from a cornerstone of your franchise.
Look no further than Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves for an example of how a rookie can improve within their rookie season. Looking over Edwards’s stats and how similar they were to Green's, we can predict the rest of Green’s rookie season.
Comparing Jalen Green’s rookie season to Edwards
In Edwards's rookie season, he averaged 19.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists, with most of his damage coming in a specular second half of the season. Before the All-Star break, Edwards averaged 14.9 points, four rebounds, and 2.5 assists, shooting 37% from the field and 30% from three. After the All-Star break, Edwards averaged 23.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists, shooting 45% from the field and 35% from three.
Edwards made a great leap forward after the All-Star break, and with Green already trending on that trajectory, he could continue to get better. To give a more accurate prediction, it makes more sense to look over their rookie seasons in thirds. Each third represents a different part of Green's and Edwards' rookie seasons.
In the first third, they were just being introduced into the NBA. Edwards only started seven of the 24 games in the first third of last season 72 game season. He averaged 14 points, on 38% shooting from the field.
For Green, his first third is 27 games, as this season, the NBA will play a regular 82 games. He played in only 18 games, starting in all, but suffered and hamstring injury. He would also average 14 points, on 38% shooting from the field.
In the second third, Green showed more of the same. He played in 21 games out of the 27 as he still dealt with the hamstring injury. However, for Edwards, is when he would start to adjust. He started all 24 games and averaged 20.6 points on 40% shooting from the field. In a shorter season, and with Green’s injury, it would make sense that Edwards would start to adjust earlier, but Green still has time.
In Edwards's final third, he averaged 23.4 points, shooting 47% from the field and 37% from three in 24 games. It was clear that Edwards had arrived and was thriving, and he has continued that rise this season.
Green has only played 13 of the 28 games in his final third. He has averaged 19.5 points, shooting 49% from the field and 39% from three. It has been clear that Green has started to adjust, averaging five more points than he did through the first 54 games.
The similarities between Green and Edward’s seasons are so apparent. That should give confidence to the Rockets that Green's slow start doesn’t mean much, as he continues to get better. The Ant-Man and the Green Arrow might not be similar on the pages of a comic book, but on the basketball court, they're starting to look like the internet's favorite Spiderman meme.