Despite crisis, Rafael Stone happy with Rockets rookie Jalen Green
The last three games haven’t been kind to Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green, who is averaging 5.7 points and 26.7 minutes on abysmal 15.0 percent and 11 overall shooting percentages. 8% on 3 points.
In addition to recognizing the small sample, it is also important to remember the context. In a rebuilding season, the Rockets have essentially thrown the 19-year-old into the deep end, as general manager Rafael Stone calls him. The No. 2 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft plays starting minutes on a bad team, and he often faces better defenders from more talented opponents.
This puts Green in a worse position to be effective compared to rookies who play with better teams or those who are able to stay fresher and find more advantageous games as a reserve.
Asked recently by Kelly Iko of The Athletic about Green’s first NBA season, Stone pointed to this context:
I’m super happy with Jalen. He is immensely talented. When you’re so good, the world is yours, but only if you really want to work in it. I couldn’t be happier with his work ethic. He’s a great teammate, very smart.
It just really squeaks, and we threw it in the deep end. Some of the best defenders in the NBA on some of the best teams in the NBA were protecting him from Game 1. We did it because we are confident he can handle it and it will speed up his learning curve. The improvement he has made since day 1 is just rapid. It’s just on a big curve, from my point of view. So we are really happy.
“We want to be aggressive.”
Two weeks before the deadline, chief executive Rafael Stone says he will “make sure we talk to everyone”.
The Rockets general manager sits down to discuss Houston’s young core, rebuilding and more.
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) January 27, 2022
For the entire 2021-22 season, Green is averaging 14.2 points and 3.2 rebounds for the Rockets in 29.9 minutes, and he’s shooting 37.4% from the field and 29.1% from the field. 3 points.
At some point, Green’s efficiency and defense will have to improve to justify his high draft status, but halfway through his rookie season at 19, he’s still extremely early in the process. Additionally, Stone believes that in the long run, this level of exposure can accelerate his development.
For now, the relative struggles are pretty understandable, and the Rockets are banking on Green’s intelligence and work ethic to fill his gaps over the weeks, months and years.