Jalen Green's NBA All-Star Comp
The Rockets’ future is directly tied to Jalen Green. The second overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft has all the ability to become a scoring champ, but how the other areas of his game develop will determine if he’s a top-25 player or a top-10.
When Green is feeling it, he is nearly unstoppable. He can create space against the best defenders in the league and blow by any rotation that’s a half-step too slow. As he improves his ability to finish through contact he’ll start to get to the line with even more frequency.
The foundation for an All-Star caliber player is readily apparent when Green graces the court. His rookie season has been up and down, but for young score-first players that tends to be the rule.
Green, in 29 games, is averaging 15 points and 2.2 assists per game. His shooting, 47.6% on 2-pointers and 30.6% on 3-pointers is slightly underwhelming, but his overall numbers are weighed down by a slow start.
The NBA superstar that holds the road map for Jalen Green’s future is James Harden.
Jalen Green's NBA All-Star Comp: James Harden
Draft gurus have always likened Green to Zach LaVine, but that sells him short in one crucial area, free throw attempts. Green is averaging 3.7 free throw attempts on only 6.5 2-point field goal attempts a game. His free throw attempt rate of .284 is better than LaVine’s career mark, and that’s with Green taking 49.9% of his shots from three, compared to LaVine’s 36%.
James Harden wrote the book on being a high-volume 3-point and free throw shooter, and Green looks well on his way to becoming just that. While Green is slightly smaller than Harden, he is a far more explosive athlete.
Green’s ability to create in isolation gives him a blueprint to emulate Harden’s game from the first half of his career. Remember, before James Harden was a point guard, he played off-ball as a score-first shooting guard. Over time his playmaking responsibilities grew, but it wasn’t until his sixth season in the league that averaged over seven assists a game.
Green’s playmaking has yet to be leaned into, but there are moments where it’s clear that he could be the creative focal point of an offense. As he improves as a scorer, passing lanes will open up, and flashes of Harden will come back.
If everything clicks for Jalen Green, he has the ability to win an MVP award, just like Harden. If he reaches his potential he’ll be a walking elite offense all on his own, just like Harden. And if he is surrounded by three other All-Stars, the Rockets will bring home a third NBA Championship.