The Houston Rockets have done a good enough job of being competitive during the 2023-24 season thus far. The hiring of new head coach Ime Udoka has worked out for the best, while the additions of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks via free agency have given them a defense-first identity, helping turn things around for Houston in the fourth year of their rebuild. However, amid the Rockets' turnaround, one supposed franchise cornerstone has gotten lost in the shuffle, with third-year guard Jalen Green looking like he has stagnated thus far.

In fact, at times, it doesn't look like Green has merely stagnated; it appears as though he has declined. He is currently posting the worst efficiency numbers of his career, and as a result, the Rockets coaching staff has had to cut his minutes. It's gotten to the point where the Rockets have opted to roll with the likes of Aaron Holiday and Tari Eason over him in crunch time; against the Pacers, Green didn't play the final 16 minutes of the game — that's how bad it has gotten for the 21-year old guard.

Nonetheless, Ime Udoka and the Rockets have “not thought about” benching Jalen Green, as demoting him may not be the best thing to do to protect his confidence.

“We’ll continue to keep him confident, continue to [help] him improve in certain areas, and he’ll take a jump eventually,” Udoka said, per Michael Shapiro of Chron.

The Rockets still believe that Jalen Green can be a game-changer for the franchise. Being the second overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft comes with it a longer leash, and Green has shown flashes of being an unstoppable scoring force in his brief career thus far.

Ime Udoka's assessment of Green's struggles point to more of a mental struggle for the young guard as he tries to acclimate into more of a supporting role for a more competitive team.

“I think at times he’s struggling to read what [defenses] are doing, and he’s passing up some looks and forcing some others,” Udoka added. “He’s got to continue to improve in that area, read the game and take what it gives you.”

At the end of the day, Jalen Green is only 21 years old, so he has plenty of time on his hands. But the Rockets need him to step his game up faster so they could return to true contention soon enough.