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What’s behind Jalen Green’s sophomore struggles around the rim?

N.B. Lindberg
Houston Rockets v Utah Jazz
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Jalen Green’s athleticism is a gift and a curse

If you watch Green attack the rim, you’ll consistently notice that his athleticism is holding him back from being the free throw merchant and consistent rim rattler his powers suggest he could be. This clip is a perfect example of how being a supremely gifted athlete can be a gift and a curse. 

The finish that Green is able to pull off against Ivica Zubac, a legit seven-footer, is incredible. There are maybe a handful of players in the league capable of hitting that shot. However, Green didn’t make the right decision going for the circus shot, even if he hit it. 

The right decision would have been to bump Zubac with a full head of steam, draw the blocking foul as his feet weren’t set, and try to get the and-one. Would that play have led to a highlight clip on Twitter? Probably not, but creating space and guaranteeing a trip to the free throw line, with a chance at 3-point play, is better than avoiding contact and throwing up a circus shot. 

In just about every game, there is at least one drive where Green avoids contact when attacking the rim. His ability to contort his body midflight is spectacular, but he leans on it far too often. In most of these situations, he’d be better off engaging contact and taking his chances at the free throw line. Green is so close to unlocking this part of his game, and once he does, it'll be a nightmare for opposing defenses.