Jalen Green's Olympic coach talks Green's defense, excitement for Rockets' season
Jalen Green has been everything as advertised during the Las Vegas Summer League, as he's shown the ability to score with ease, in addition to the competitiveness and confidence that everyone gushed about prior to the draft. The Houston Rockets won their first two games in Vegas, in large part because of Green and dropped their last two, as Green has been largely out of the lineup with a hamstring injury.
Many have questioned whether the Rockets should ease Green in off the bench to start the 2021-22 season, much like the Charlotte Hornets did with LaMelo Ball, the eventual Rookie of the Year, who came off the bench through the Hornets' first 20 games of 2020-21. The Minnesota Timberwolves employed a similar strategy with Anthony Edwards, who began the season as a key reserve for the Wolves, as he got acclimated to the speed and pace of the NBA.
Could the Rockets employ a similar strategy with Green or should they start the season out with a three-guard lineup, consisting of Green, John Wall, and Kevin Porter Jr.? If Green were to start the season off with the second unit, it wouldn't be his first time doing so, as his Olympic coach Don Showalter used a similar strategy for the USA Men's Under-16 and Under-17 World Cup Teams, which he told NBC Houston's Ari Alexander on Sports Sunday.
Jalen Green's Olympic coach talks Green's defense, excitement for Houston Rockets' season
"He came off the bench for us. He was really good with that. It wasn't an ego thing for him. He said whatever it takes to win a gold medal for us he'll do."
Showalter also discussed Green's playmaking and defensive ability, which are two things that were viewed as weaknesses for the Houston Rockets' second-overall pick.
"He's the type of kid that really likes to get everybody involved. He's really happy when his teammates are good too, but by the same token, he can take over a game.
And when he's hot, when he's hitting the 3-pointer, he completely takes over a game. Just from his shooting ability, but then when you add the defensive end, he'll block shots, run the court, he kinda does it both ways."
And although Green has made it known that he wanted to be the Detroit Pistons' first overall pick in the draft, his Olympic coach added that he's excited about being in Houston.
"He's obviously really happy with where he got drafted. He's going to be a major piece of that rebuild.
His athleticism is off the chart. He's coming into the league as one of the most athletic players that there is. But now he's combining that with high skill.
He's very resilient. He's really learned how to do the next play. He's going to do whatever it takes to be a great player."
Team USA won a gold medal in the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup, with Green winning the MVP, posting averages of 15.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. In addition, Green and Vernon Carey Jr. were the only Americans to make the All-Tournament team that year.
Green also won a gold medal under Showalter on the Under-16 team in 2017, posting averages of 9.8 points, two rebounds and one steal per game.