Why it's far too early to give up on Rockets star Jalen Green

Houston Rockets v Cleveland Cavaliers
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Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga
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A Star in the Making

Green was among the first highly-valued prospects to be drafted out of the G-League Ignite program. He made his presence known immediately with a sparkling silver suit, long hair, and painted fingernails. His style choices were just a glimpse of what kind of flash he would be bringing to the league. 

Green immediately brought electric athleticism and jaw-dropping shot-making ability to a team in desperate need of direction after the loss of James Harden. He has hit big shots, such as his clutch stepback three over Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis that put the Rockets in the position to finish a comeback victory.

His chemistry with Alperen Şengün has shown that he is more than capable of being an effective off-ball mover and finisher and highlighted his ability and willingness to set his teammates up for their own finishes. 

It hasn’t been all sunshine and daisies for the California native. Jalen has mightily struggled at times to get the ball through the hoop on a consistent basis. Stat-hunting these performances for Green is no doubt how many fans have begun to assume he’s nothing more than the inefficient scoring guard that the NBA is moving on from. 

It is more than fair to say that Jalen has had his struggles. He has been inconsistent and, at times, he has shown a tendency to put up some of the more difficult shots you'll see an NBA guard take.

It’s things like this that have caused many basketball fans to doubt Green's place in this league. In an episode of his podcast from March of this year, The Ringer's Bill Simmons suggested that the Rockets selecting Jalen Green over Evan Mobley could be a "draft catastrophe." Is that fair? Has Jalen really shown in two years that he was a waste of a draft pick and will in no way reach the heights he was thought to be capable of as a prospect?

Let’s compare Jalen’s second season to that of another shooting guard who was in a similar situation during his second season, Devin Booker.

Age 20 Season










Devin Booker










Jalen Green










As you can see, Green posted a very similar line to Booker in their age 20 seasons. Both played for teams that finished 15th in the Western Conference and both were operating under young head coaches that would lose their jobs not long after the season's end.

While it remains to be seen how good the other players on this Rockets team will end up later on, both players were operating in a space where they were expected to shine without high-value veterans to bolster their roster.

Booker did not have the pressure of being a high lottery pick, but similar things were said about him early in his career. Jonathan Abrams wrote in a 2019 Bleacher Report article that "Many wondered whether Booker's skills could translate into winning."

Today, he has become one of the best all-around guards in the NBA, improving not only his scoring and efficiency but his passing and defense as well. Each season he has improved and this year he secured his first All-NBA First Team honors.

Can Green rise to the heights of players at his position like Booker? Can he follow in the Suns guard's footsteps and rise above all of the chatter? Frankly, there is no reason why he shouldn't.

Many of the same things have been said about Green early in his career, but he shares Booker's innate nose for the hoop along with his undying desire to win. In a 2022 article, Kelly Iko referenced the qualities that draft gurus and Rockets fans fell in love with when evaluating Green:

"This is the Green that everyone fell in love with. The gym rat. The perfectionist. The gamer."

Kelly Iko, The Athletic

He's dedicated to his craft and obsessed with improving his game. He is not content with a flashy stat line once every ten games. This was reiterated by the man himself when he was recalling his first phone call with Houston's new head coach, Ime Udoka, on Podcast P with Paul George.

According to Green, he called up Ime and told him that he's "willing to do whatever it takes to win." It's this kind of mentality that should comfort Rockets fans through Green's early struggles.

It can be expected that Green will continue to grow as a passer and decision-maker. His elite scoring ability will turn into elite scoring efficiency. He'll become a cohesive team defender and bulk up so that he can hold his ground. He has already put on full display his raw ability. Put Jalen in a system with a coach that will hold him accountable and maximize his potential and he will be a star in this league before you know it.

For all of these reasons, the Houston Rockets and their fans should look forward to their young guard blossoming into an All-NBA First Team player with the ability to capture multiple scoring titles and All-Star appearances. He has all the right makings to become one of the best players that the league has to offer.

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