Houston Rockets fans are well aware of Jalen Green’s talents. His combination of agility, balance, flexibility, and explosion allows him to conjure open shots at will. With his improving handle and jump shot, it’s only a matter of time before he joins the elite 25 points per game club.
After a rocky start to his NBA career, he averaged 14.2 points per game on 37.4% shooting in his first 33 games, he torched the league in the back half, averaging 20.3 points per game on 46.7% shooting in his final 34, and NBA executives took notice.
NBA executives have spoken, Jalen Green is the real deal
Hoopshype polled 15 NBA executives, asking them to rank their top-five players under 25 years old to build around, and Jalen Green tied with 2021 number one overall pick Cade Cunningham as the tenth best young building block. Cunningham entered the season with an incredible amount of hype, but his slow start was not nearly as maligned as Green’s.
In Cunningham’s first 32 career games, he averaged 15.5 points per game on 39% shooting, but like Green finished the season strong, averaging 19.3 points per game on 43.8% shooting. While Cade posted better assists numbers (5.6 to 2.6 assists per game) on the season, he paired it with far more turnovers (3.7 turnovers to 2 assists per game).
NBA decision-makers seeing Green and Cunningham as equal caliber building blocks makes sense. Green showed far more scoring promise, but Cunningham has a more well-rounded offensive game.
Jalen Green has elite company
While the first and second overall picks in the 2021 draft finished tied for tenth, the third overall pick, Evan Mobley, finished fourth in the exercise, and Scottie Barnes finished seventh. It would be irresponsible to claim that the Rockets and Pistons made a mistake in passing up Mobley and Barnes. The truth is that four teams made four fantastic decisions.
The poll, unsurprisingly, had Luka Doncic ranked first, followed by, in order; Jayson Tatum, Ja Morant, Anthony Edwards, Zion Williamson, Scottie Barnes, LaMelo Ball, Trae Young, Darius Garland, Jalen Green, Cade Cunningham, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Tyrese Haliburton.
The company Jalen Green is keeping should have Rockets fans excited. Being in the same class as some of the game’s best young stars is no easy feat, and he’s by far the youngest player. If he can build off his fantastic second half, there’s a chance he soars up these rankings.