Jalen Green willing to do whatever it takes to get Rockets wins
Going from covering an established superstar like James Harden for several years to covering a star prospect like Jalen Green is incredibly different. Harden almost always came out in the positive column and his games were always steady and predictable. It’ll be anyone’s guess how many games Green has in the positive column this year and everything feels different night-to-night.
After struggling to find a rhythm offensively the first two games of the season, Green exploded for his first career 30-point game on Sunday in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
“He was putting a lot of pressure on himself to produce and succeed,” said coach Stephen Silas after the game. “And it seemed like tonight, he didn’t put as much pressure on himself. He just kind of played. It wasn’t like we were running a whole bunch of stuff for him, or whatever. It was found within what we do.”
Of Green’s eight made three-pointers, four came off of catch-and-shoot. He continued to let the game come to him all night, rather than forcing himself to have a good performance. However, Jalen Green did start the game with the ball in his hands more than he’s been accustomed to in Houston. He brought the ball up the court, made plays for others (Daniel Theis received two back-to-back assists from Green), and started taking pull-up jumpers after it became clear he was having a hot shooting night.
“I do think [Kevin Porter Jr.] did a really good job of helping him tonight,” said Silas. “There were times where [Porter Jr.] was like, “Hey, you take it”. He brought the ball up the floor some and [Porter Jr.] played off the ball some. So I definitely credit him for some of that aggressiveness on Jalen’s part. Because if [Porter Jr.] wants to have the ball the whole time, then it’s hard for Jalen at times. But [Porter Jr.] was very intentional about getting Jalen going tonight. And that shows big time maturity from him.”
One of Green’s positive attributes that was clear during the draft process was his willingness to move and play without the ball in his hands. Since the Rockets have their fair share of ball handlers is Porter Jr., Eric Gordon, and D.J. Augustin, it’s a trait that he’s had to lean on since the start of the season. Houston hadn’t really relied on his scoring ability until tonight.
“I think I still had the same mentality,” said Green. “Wanting to win, wanting to come in and just kill, give everyone the ball as much as I can, and make reads. I just hit shots today.”
Obviously one shouldn’t expect 80% from beyond the arc every night, but it’s really the confidence he shot them with that was impressive. He didn’t hesitate, he didn’t pass up an open look, and he increased his volume of threes after the hot start.
“I felt really comfortable,” said Jalen Green. “After I hit my first three, I felt good. I didn’t really see a shot I didn’t like.”
Green had only scored 9 points on poor shooting in his previous two outings and it was encouraging that it didn’t seem to bother him on Sunday. He just kept his head down, attacked, and although Houston lost, the team was really happy to see him get his first impressive NBA performance.
“We all believe in him from teammates to the coaching staff,” said forward Jae’Sean Tate “He puts the work in and he shows it on a daily basis. It’s just about getting comfortable. That’s only the third game of the season. So he’ll get even more comfortable and he’ll continue to make shots. “
As Silas said, the pressure had been weighing on Green to come out and have a good game. Being the number two overall pick in a stacked draft class, that self-pressure is understandable. However, all the Rockets want him to do is play within the offense and be aggressive when the opportunity presents itself. Green doesn’t want to have more nights like this at the expense of losing games.
“I’m not trying to force anything,” said Jalen Green. “Obviously I want to win over anything. If that’s me going to get 30 or 9 or 15 or 20 [points], I’ll do whatever it takes.”