Jalen Green's dismal play could lead to major lineup change for Rockets

Memphis Grizzlies v Houston Rockets
Memphis Grizzlies v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Much has been made about the Houston Rockets' turnaround in 2023-24. Not only are the Rockets 12-9, but they've had one of the best defenses in the league, which tends to be a sustainable style of play.

The Rockets have found ways to win ugly games, in which essentially nothing goes right, like Monday night's 93-82 victory over the Victor Wembanyama-led San Antonio Spurs, when the Rockets shot a measly 34.4 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from distance.

The Rockets also managed to nab a victory on Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, in spite of a horrendous 2-of-8 performance from Alperen Sengun, who has easily been the Rockets' best player all season. Sengun has been on a bit of a slump of late, as he hasn't eclipsed the 20-point mark in three consecutive games, despite recording 20 or more in 10 of the previous 11 between November 10th and December 6th.

However, Sengun's recent skid hasn't been anything like Jalen Green's, who has been benched down the stretch in consecutive games and has averaged 13 points on 33 percent from the field (22-of-66), 18.5 percent from deep (5-of-27), and nearly three turnovers through the last five games.

Green's struggles have come at a rather unfortunate time, as many were expecting the proverbial third-year leap from the Fresno native. Not to mention that Green becomes eligible for a rookie extension this summer.

If Green's struggles continue (which they likely won't), Rockets coach Ime Udoka will have to do much more than bench him in the final period. He'll have to consider making a lineup change.

Rockets coach Ime Udoka's hand could be forced into making a lineup change.

Udoka and the Rockets could trot out a starting lineup of Amen Thompson, Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, Jabari Smith Jr., and Alperen Sengun. Such a move would allow the Rockets to bring Green off the bench, alongside Tari Eason, Aaron Holiday, and Jeff Green.

It's not quite a farfetched idea, considering that Green has been benched for less talented players, like Holiday. This isn't to shade Holiday, who has played stellar this season.

The point is that the Rockets could easily justify benching Green for a top-four pick, like Thompson.

And Thompson and VanVleet would play well together, due to VanVleet's ability to shoot from long-range (37.3 percent from 3 and 40 percent on catch-and-shoot triples). Thompson could also provide more than Green, as he has an all-around game and can provide playmaking, defense, and effort on the glass, even if his shots aren't falling, unlike Green.

See Thompson's recent 29-point, 16-rebound, 11-assist triple-double with the Rio Grande Vipers.

Again, I wouldn't expect Green's struggles to continue for the rest of the season, but the good thing for the Rockets is that they have the ability to mitigate his struggles by yanking him from the starting lineup, in favor of Thompson.