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Jalen Green’s true feelings ahead of NBA debut vs. Timberwolves

Jalen Green, Rockets, Timberwolves

Players like Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green have been on an NBA trajectory since they were pre-teens. They’re the stars of their grade school teams, they join the AAU basketball circuit, scouts make regular appearances at their games, and they’re recruited by several different entities looking to capitalize on their talents (colleges, brands, extended family, etc.).

Green was fully aware that he would be drafted in the NBA. But he took the extra initiative of joining Team Ignite in the NBA G League instead of a traditional college route. He’s been very clear about what his endgame is.

“I’m excited and nervous,” said Green ahead of his debut against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. “We’re in the NBA now. We got fans. We’re at the highest level competing. So, it should be fun. It’s what we worked for. It’s what I worked for. To get to this moment. I got to live it up.”

Ironically enough, Green’s first game will be against someone who was in a similar situation last season: 2020 first overall pick Anthony Edwards. The Timberwolves forward finished last season second in the Rookie of the Year race, an award Green has said multiple times that he wants to win.

“Me and him been battling since high school,” said Green. “I remember at Steph Curry camp we were going at it. So it’s just a familiar face. I’m just going to come ready to hoop with him.”

Jalen Green had a pretty rocky preseason, averaging only 13.3 points on 48.3 percent true shooting. Rockets coach Stephen Silas described the preseason as a learning experience for the rookies, and it was certainly that for Green.

“I think the pace, knowing the terminology, knowing the defense, and the offense,” said Green on what he’s learned so far. “When to get to my spots and when to take my shots. I’m learning how to get everyone involved too because I draw a lot of attention.”

Green also talked about how the pacing was something he had to get used to during the Rockets training camp in Galveston. The Rockets play a lot faster than Green was accustomed to Team Ignite, which Green described as more of a halfcourt squad. He’s got the physical tools to play at a fast pace, but he hasn’t been asked to do that since high school.

“I feel like I got to work on it a little bit more. I feel like I’m starting to adjust though,” admitted Green.

Being the second overall pick in a stacked draft class, Jalen Green obviously isn’t just any other rookie. The second pick has historically come with very high expectations. They are expected to be instant stars and franchise savior-types. Green also added some of his own expectations throughout the draft process, saying there’s always pressure when playing in the NBA.

“It’s just basketball at the end of the day,” said Green. “Sometimes I do feel that pressure a little bit. Just feeling that I got to come out and be perfect. I just got to remember it’s just basketball. It’s the game I love. I want to stay in love with the game. I can’t let that distract me. We got a fun and exciting squad, so it makes it easier that I have all my bros with me.”