The Rockets long expected Jalen Green to be awaiting them at No. 2, and he's there: They think he's going to be a star for them.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 30, 2021
Sometimes all it takes is the right draft pick to completely turn a franchise around, but Houston has the luxury of two additional first-round picks at Nos. 23 and 24 overall to headline its rookie class.
As for Green, he’s coming off a one-year stint with the inaugural G League Ignite in which he averaged 17.9 points on shooting splits of 46.1/36.5/82.9. He also put up 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals per contest in 15 games.
While that’s not a massive sample size, Green did get quality experience and consistently went up against more NBA-caliber competition than the other top picks in the 2021 class have.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 180 pounds, Green obviously needs to bulk up, but his quick-twitch athleticism is seriously something to behold. He can get from coast to coast in a hurry, which makes him a great fit alongside pace-pushing point guard John Wall in the Rockets’ backcourt.
Wall may not be widely viewed as part of Houston’s long-term vision considering his injury history, lengthy NBA tenure to date and lack of playoff success, yet he made the most of dire circumstances last season when James Harden was traded.
Even though Wall has perhaps lost at least half a step from his absolute prime, he and Green are still going to form one of the more physically gifted guard tandems in the NBA.
To circle back to Green, he has considerable upside as a defender, and as is evident in his steals average, his length and quick hands translate well to disrupting passing lanes and closing off opponents from beating him off the dribble.
Prior to being drafted, Green spoke glowingly about the pieces Houston has in place, and what he could bring to the team, per The Athletic‘s Alykhan Bijani:
Jalen Green on the Jump: "[#Rockets] already got young talent. They just got to put it all together on the defensive side. They just gotta lock in. I think I come in with a defensive mentality. I'm willing to give 110% on both sides of the floor. I think I could turn it up there"— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) July 29, 2021
Also in the fold on the Rockets are another veteran guard in Eric Gordon, a rising stud of a big man in Christian Wood — who’s an absolute matchup nightmare as an offensive weapon — and a pair of young, gifted perimeter players in Jae’Sean Tate and Kevin Porter Jr.
The latter two players are wild cards, and Gordon may eventually be on the move in a trade if the price is right. However, if Houston somehow hits on one of its remaining two first-rounders in this draft and Green is who he’s hoped to be, suddenly the Rockets have something very exciting.