It's exceptionally rare to play an entire season in the modern NBA. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of players playing all 82 games has dipped to an average of seven, compared to twenty-four between 2012 and 2019. Nowadays, most NBA teams prioritize rest and load management.

But not Jalen Green. The Houston Rockets' starting shooting guard did not sit out a single game in his third year.

Rocket Man

Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (4) shoots against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second half at Arena.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The former G-League Ignite is just one of six players to achieve this goal this season. This is a testament to his innate durability. While it hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows, Green was key to catapulting the Rockets to a 41-41 record, a nineteen-game jump from last season. This is also the first time in three years that they have not had a losing record.

Yes, Green isn't known to be injury-prone in his young career quite yet, but his presence on the floor throughout each regular season game speaks volumes about his heightened impact.

“I train my body to play all 82. I want to play every game,” he said.

Green vs. the Beard

Green is the first Rockets guard to play all 82 games since James Harden in the 2015-2016 season. While that's definitely something to brag about, Green's production doesn't quite match Harden's yet. By this point, the Beard was the Rockets undisputed star and MVP candidate for the better half of a decade.

Many often referred Harden as Houston's “Iron Man,” hardly ever suffering a long term injury between the years 2013-2020. While this is just Green's third season, this could set the precedent of an Iron Man sequel level of durability on the court.

Playing through injuries

Of course, no player is completely healthy for the majority of the season, which makes the tenacity to do it an impressive feat. Just like Harden in a Rockets uniform, Green wasn't necessarily healthy throughout the entire year.

For example, he played through a thumb injury in March, which happened to be the best month of his NBA career. Moreover, the 22-year old suffered a leg injury on the 81st game of the season, yet he still came back out to play for Game 82. Head coach Ime Udoka was certainly impressed with Green's durability, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

“A guy playing heavy minutes, but not only that, a young guy, especially in this day and age when guys sit out with pretty much anything,” Udoka said. “Not only the fact that he’s playing a lot of minutes but is an … integral part of our team. Just the mentality of some of the young guys today to sit out with any nick and knack. His playing through stuff has been great, especially with the struggles he had early.”

Even if he struggled for over half the season, Udoka still had confidence in his young shooting guard. The fact that Green has done this while driving to the basket on a daily basis, taking multiple hits each time and still getting back up to do it again is incredible to see.

Jalen Green's consistency matches durability

During the past few seasons, Green and the Rockets played with little to no impact due to growing rebuild pains, a poorly constructed roster, and a coach unfit to rule. The complete overhaul of the following seasons with a new coach in Udoka coupled with key veteran signings were integral to Green's development coming into his third season.

His overall averages of 19.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 42.3% shooting across an eighty-two game season doesn't dictate the entire story. Even during the rather tumultuous adjustment period that lasted four months, Green continued to battle, and came alive after the All-Star break.

From March towards the end of the season, Green averaged 24.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 23 games. Although his production dipped in April, that's due to NBA teams making it more of a priority to defend him on the perimeter.

Dallas Mavericks star Kyrie Irving said it best on his dramatic improvement, praising for the young rising star.

“The maturity he has shown over these past two months are tremendous and I am nothing short of proud of him as a big brother,” Irving said.

During the majority of the regular season, Green had to find a way to perform efficiently on the floor. If we're being honest, it wasn't pretty. There was a period of time where Rockets fans wanted completely out of the rotation. But was he able to put on a Rockets uniform day in and day out? Absolutely. And that's hard to do.

Green's next step 

Now that he's finally achieved both for the most part, he's got another hurdle to overcome, and that is reliability. This should be his goal in the offseason.

“Compared to other years my first two years were pretty rough we weren't even looking at being .500 at the end of the season,” Green muttered, following the last game of the season. “That was one of my goals this year. We talked about in the locker room. I said 44 wins but we got 41 and I think I think it's awesome. It shows that next year we have a shot to be in the playoffs.”

Playing all 82 games is a great accomplishment, especially in this modern NBA. Will Green play an entire season again? Maybe. At just 22, if he matches consistency with his durability similar to Harden before him for an entire season, then the Rockets could be one of the best young teams in the NBA next season.