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NBA Draft Scouting: Jalen Green

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Green looked very good in the G League for Ignite

NBA G League Playoffs - G League Ignite v Raptors 905 Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Physicals:

Weight - 178 lbs

Height - 6’5

Wingspan - 6’7.5

Jalen Green is an athletic scoring guard who has all of the tools to be an impressive shooting guard in the NBA. Green performed excellently in the G League and more than held his own in one of the toughest leagues in basketball. The G League is incredibly competitive; every single player is fighting for the chance to play professional basketball in the NBA.

Green’s path is not unique in this Draft, Jonathan Kuminga is another G League blue-chipper projected to be a top-five pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. However, Jalen Green is different to those who have gone before. Green is part of the first cohort that have come through the G League.

In 2018, the NBA created a pathway for elite prospects to go professional straight out of high school. Darius Bazley had committed to play in the G League but he eventually decided to train privately with Mike Miller before entering the Draft. Jalen Green chose to play for Ignite and received a basketball education under Coach Brian Shaw.

Jalen Green projects to be a scoring machine. There are few prospects that I have seen in this Draft who have his combination of smooth athleticism and shooting. Green could honestly be a No.1 Pick in a Draft without Cunningham or Mobley.

A lot of mock drafts have Green slated to be picked with either the 2nd or 3rd pick. The Thunder getting a top-three pick will mean that Sam Presti will not need to trade with other teams to obtain the means to take Green. However, a top-three pick is not guaranteed and the Thunder will need to consider trades.

I do not think Orlando has need for Jalen Green. The Magic have guards such as Cole Anthony, RJ Hampton and Markellez Fultz who they will want to get plenty of minutes as the lead offensive creator. Hampton and Anthony have both shown promise in the backcourt.

Detroit will likely be very interested in Jalen Green. The Pistons have a nice core of young players in the form of Hamidou Diallo, Saddiq Bey and Jerami Grant but Detroit are light on shot creation. Jalen Green can get buckets and will provide a reliable scoring option who can work alongside Grant.

A trade with Detroit will likely command a young player, the Thunder’s 2021 pick and perhaps another future draft pick. It is a strong price but Jalen Green is the sort of player who can raise the ceiling of the Thunder.

Green’s best performance of the season came against the Canton Charge. The Charge are a far cry from the team that finished second in the G League standings last season and Green capitalised. He went off for 26 points and got hot from downtown, hitting six 3-point shots.

Green averaged 18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.5 steals per game for the season. Over the course of 15 games, Green was highly productive against competitive competition. His statistics are less impressive than some of his contemporaries who opted to play college ball but you have to remember that the G League is much tougher league to play in.

Green filled the scoring role effectively. He was hugely efficient (61.3% TS) and bombed away from deep. Green averaged 5.7 3PA per game for Ignite and provided spacing for a team that was pretty poor from deep. G League Ignite shot just 31.9% on 8.7 3PA per game as a team. Green was deployed as a marksman by Coach Brian Shaw.

Green’s shot chart is a good indicator of his shot profile and the sort of player he projects to be in the NBA.

We often talk about a desire to get threes or shots at the rim in an NBA that is now heavily influenced by analytics. Detailed statistics have identified that these looks are the best shots in the NBA. Green’s shot chart exemplifies that trend. The most surprising datapoint from his chart is that Jalen Green shot 65.8% on a decent number of attempts around the rim.

Green’s strong work around the rim largely stems from his outstanding athleticism. Green is rapid off the dribble and can create a lot of separation with his speed. Green’s first step is quick but his second step is elite level acceleration. I do not think that I have seen a player with a second step like that in the five years that I have watched basketball.

Russell Westbrook is the most athletic guard that I have ever seen. Westbrook’s second step does not match Green’s explosiveness. Green just bursts away from the defender on his back and creates so much space to finish at the rim. When he gets to the rim, Green is an acrobat. Jalen is able to contort himself around the defense and find some way to get the shot off.

That being said, Jalen Green will need to learn to take contact around the rim. There were a few too many occasions when it seemed like Green swerved out of the way of the big man and settled for a high-difficulty finish. I would like to see him go straight into the body of the rim protector and draw contact.

Green has bounce as an off the dribble threat but also thrives off the ball. Green ran offense for Ignite but the offensive load was split relatively evenly between Green, Kuminga, Nix and Jarrett Jack. As an off-ball option Green was very productive, Jalen shot 36.5% from beyond the arc for the season which is above league average.

36.5% is a good mark and that skill will directly translate to the NBA. You can already envision defensive players staying tight to him whenever he is moving around the perimeter, hunting for his own shot. There is also scope for further improvement on Green’s form.

Green currently knocks down the long ball at an efficient rate so there is no need to completely change his shot but I think he would benefit from a few minor tweaks. Jalen has a habit of not pointing his feet at the rim which can make aiming the shot more difficult. Great shooters find ways to make their shot easy and repeatable.

Klay Thompson is often regarded as one of the premier marksman in the NBA and his footwork is always perfect. Thompson feints and shrugs off defensive pressure but he does not get caught up in the evasion. Thompson remains focused on getting his feet in line with the rim.

The other adjustment that Green would benefit from is controlling his elevation more carefully. Green often springs off the ground and releases his jumper. His vertical leap means that he gets a ton of separation from the defense and his shot is difficult to contest.

However, that sort of leap can be difficult to replicate consistently throughout the game. As the game progresses and players get more fatigued, it is harder to leap with the same explosiveness. Green dialling back his elevation slightly will give him more control over his jumper and make the shot more replicable.

Green’s defense is inconsistent at the moment; he will have stretches as the primary defender and looked really impressive before moving off the ball and looking out of his depth. Green is prone to defensive lapses and those lapses largely stem from his situational awareness.

Whenever Green is not playing on-ball defense, he allows his assignment to get way too much separation. From the film that I have seen, it is clear that Green ball watches on defense and does not always take into account where his man is. This often means that he is out of position and cannot successfully contest shots.

Moreover, Jalen Green is an aggressive gambler whenever the ball comes into the lane. He likes to swipe at the ball and tries create turnovers. I like his aggression but it can be unnecessary and rack up fouls way too quickly. He has to be more disciplined in this regard.

Despite these issues on the defensive end of the floor, Jalen Green is a ‘Grade A’ talent who will help the Thunder immensely. He is already a scoring machine and will add firepower to the Thunder’s offense. While Green’s shoot-first mind-set does not necessarily fit with Presti’s building approach, it is very easy to see him excelling with Gilgeous-Alexander feeding him great looks.