Tier Rankings: Who will emerge as Rockets MVP in 2022-23?

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What are the chances that Jalen Green is the Rockets’ best player?

Jalen Green is ready to take the next step. Much like Kevin Porter Jr., he was objectively awful to start the season but came on strong in the second half. The way his rookie season mirrored Anthony Edwards, although with a lower shooting volume, was eerie but should also have Rockets fans excited. 

Considering how poorly Green played over his first 35 games, his final season statline is mighty impressive. Through 35 games, Green averaged 14.1 points per game on 12.7 field goal attempts, an effective field goal percentage of 44%, and an offensive rating of 93. Over his final 32 games, he went on an absolute tear, averaging 20.7 points on 16 field goal attempts per game, a 56.7% effective field goal percentage, and an offensive rating of 114. 

Anthony Edwards also saw the 36 game mark as a turning point in his rookie season. Through his first 36 games, he averaged 14.9 points per game on 14.9 field goal attempts, 43.4% effective field goal percentage, and a 92 offensive rating. Over his final 36, he averaged 23.8 points per game on 18.7 field goal attempts, 53% effective field goal percentage, and a 108 offensive rating. 

Another factor when comparing Green to Edwards that bodes well for Green is the league-wide offensive environment. Edwards’ rookie season, 2020-21, was a historically good offense environment. The league average effective field goal percentage and offensive rating were 53.8% and 112.3. In Green’s rookie season, the league average effective field goal percentage and offensive rating were 53.2% and 112. While those differences appear small, the difference between good and great in the NBA is razor thin and shows just how impressive Green's second half really was. 

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There is no way around it, Green has the highest offensive upside of any player on the Rockets, and it’s not particularly close. He combines elite burst with agility, flexibility, and grace. Those traits allow for fantastic finishes around the rim and broken ankles at the arc, and with each rep, Green appeared to understand that even in the NBA, he had superpowers. 

There’s still a long way for Green to go to reach his ceiling, but the Rockets committing to him as their offensive focal point would really help. He showed that he could create his own shot at will and his shooting from all three levels improved as the season went on. Giving him more playmaking duties may lead to ugly turnovers, but it is necessary for him to become a truly elite offensive player. 

Given a large enough role, Green should have little issue averaging over 20 points per game. His efficiency may suffer, but he only needs to improve in one or two areas as a shooter to really boost his offensive production. His free throw attempt rate was around league average and should grow as he learns to initiate, absorb, and finish through contact, and his finishing from three to ten feet was abysmal at 25.2%. If he takes fewer floaters or simply improves, then he could see his 2-point field goal percentage hit or exceed league average. 

Jalen Green, barring injury, will be a dynamic scorer in the NBA. He has every tool necessary and fought through a poor start to his career. The Rockets want him to be their best player, and he has given them every reason to believe that he can. Green won’t turn 21 until February of 2023. By then, he might be well on his way to his first All-Star selection. 

Percent Chance: 40%

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