NBA Draft prospect Jalen Green made waves with basketball fans and scouts alike when his former head coach offered him extreme praise earlier this week.
“He wants to be compared to Kobe,” said Brad Roznovsky, Green’s high school coach at San Joaquin Memorial. “If you asked Jalen today, he can tell you that you’re crazy if you don’t take him number one [in the draft].”
Green is a 19-year-old shooting guard who recently played for the G League Ignite, a team in the NBA’s developmental system that is dedicated to grooming the best young talent in America and offering an alternative route to the professional level that does not include college.
Jalen Green | Intro
Green was ESPN’s number-one prospect in the class of 2020 and held offers from the most prominent college programs in the nation, but still decided to follow a different route. On the day that the Ignite was created, Green became the first player to join, inking a deal for $500,000. The young guard announced his decision on April 16, 2020, and dramatically reshaped the precedent for young prospects moving forward.
The potential top draft pick played and started in 15 games for the Ignite this year, averaging 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists on 46.1% field goal shooting and 36.5% from three.
He was the leading scorer on an 8-7 team that included NBA veterans Amir Johnson and Jarrett Jack, in addition to other youthful prospects. He also had 30 points, seven rebounds, and five assists while shooting 55% in the Ignite’s first-round playoff loss.
“He comes every day with that attitude that I’ve seen in some of the special young players that I’ve coached that get it right away,” said Brian Shaw, coach of the Ignite and former 3x NBA Champion as a player and 2x champ as a coach. “He has that ‘it’ factor that when you see it, you say, ‘Okay, I’m keeping an eye on this guy, because he has a chance to be really special.’”
Standing at 6-foot-5, 180 pounds, and with a 6’7.5” wingspan, Green has an NBA-ready body, even though he still has room to grow. He is most known for his incredible leaping ability that has tortured defenders and been responsible for many posterizing dunks, but he is also a streaky shooter that knocked down six of eight triples in a February matchup with the Canton Charge.
Just a few weeks ahead of the NBA Draft on July 29, most experts are predicting Green to go second to the Houston Rockets as Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham has drawn a majority of the buzz as the presumptive first-overall pick.
According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, executives and scouts around the league “love the idea” of pairing Green with current Houston member Kevin Porter Jr. Although neither are true point guards, Porter Jr. averaged 6.3 assists and had four double-digit assist games in 23 starts, one of which was coupled with 50 points and nine made threes.
There is a premium on shooting and athleticism in the modern NBA, and if the Rockets have the chance to form a tall, talented, explosive backcourt that has an average age of 20 years, it would behoove them to do so.
Wrapping Things Up
Green has a long way to go to fulfill the prospect of being mentioned with basketball legends like Kobe Bryant, but he has the talent and ability to get there; now, he must prove that he can work like a legend while performing against the best players in the world on a nightly basis.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.