On April 16th, five-star prospect Jalen Green shook the basketball world by announcing that he would skip college to enter the NBA G League’s revamped Pro Path Program. Alongside the significance of the move, this is a gigantic acquisition for the G League as the 6’5 guard undoubtedly stands as one of the top players of the 2020 high school class. 247sports has him as the # prospect behind Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham and USC’s Evan Mobley. Although ESPN has the same group in their top trifecta, the incoming G League guard stands as their top prospect.
While Green is going to be using the G League to introduce himself to a whole new audience, he already has an amazing track record for anyone let alone an 18-year-old prospect. During his run in high school, he won back-to-back-to-back gold medals as part of Team USA during their various FIBA tournaments.
The headline of that incredible run came during the 2018 U17 World Cup where Green was awarded the MVP for that tournament by putting up 15.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 steals on 51% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc on 6.3 attempts per game. Those numbers become even more impressive when you realize that he outperformed the likes of Isaac Okoro, James Wiseman, and RJ Hampton, who are all one year older than Jalen and are projected to be picked in the lottery in this year’s NBA Draft.
Green was able to have success at the international and prep level through maintaining a mix of athleticism, energy, versatility, and solid basketball IQ for a player his age. Among those four traits, his athleticism is the first thing that pops off the screen as the guard has tremendous hops which allows him to jump out of the gym at a moment’s notice to lay down some vicious slams. A fantastic example of that is seen in the clip below as he bursts to the rim and lays down a brutal right-handed poster slam on a poor defender.
While that slam was vicious enough to go viral, he wouldn’t be able to get an open lane without having the acceleration needed to burst past the perimeter defender. That quick first step is one of the tools that allows him to be an explosive player that can push himself to that next gear in a moment’s notice.
Although he’s able to utilize that skill in half-court sets, he was restricted to utilizing those skills in transition while with Prolific Prep. Although it was disappointing to see him not have a lot of half-court driving opportunities, Green can still up on a show, whether it’s being an alley-oop threat or bursting down the court with the rock in his hands. An example of him moving in transition with the ball in his hands is evident in the play below as the guard is able to change speeds on a dime while passing mid-court before adjusting his body while in the air to avoid charging into the defender.
Remember in the previous paragraph where I said that Green didn’t get a lot of chances to drive to the rim in half-court sets? Well, that was due to him working as an off-ball threat that was assigned to move around screens and find his spot on the perimeter. At least during his senior season, the young guard got a lot of reps as a perimeter shooter, which makes sense considering that’s a skill he’s been inconsistent at over the last few years.
During 19 total games of FIBA competition, the young guard shot 29% from beyond the arc on 88 total attempts. While that low percentage was largely anchored by him only hitting 21% on 4.1 attempts during the U19 World Cup in 2019. While there are no available statistics for his senior year with Prolific Prep, Maxpreps shows that the guard shot 35% from beyond the arc on 214 total attempts as a sophomore for San Joaquin Memorial High School.
Although he’s been inefficient during most of his high school career, you wouldn’t know that by actually watching him play. Because once you lay eyes on the young guard, it quickly becomes apparent that he’s a confident shooter with a really smooth jumper. Whether he’s working in the catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble, the incoming G Leaguer has this sense of fluidity which makes things that he’s practiced for hours look effortless. Visual proof of that is seen in the clip below where he uses a screen to create separation from the perimeter defender before spotting up from beyond the arc and nailing a three.
While confidence allows him to take and make those shots, it also leads him to have some questionable shot selection as he’s prone to taking contested threes when there’s still time left on the clock. That questionable decision making can also be seen from his work as a passer as the young guard either tries to force the situation, overthrows it, or mistimes the pass. The clip below is an example of all of those as Green throws the pass before the roll man is ready. That leads to the roll not being ready and having the ball sail over his hands.
Despite some rough shot selection, and an inconsistent jumper it’s still clear to see why the G League wanted to make Green the headline player for their Select team. The 6’6 guard is an incredibly athletic player that can speed down the court, go up for alley-oops and trick defenders with handles and an ability to change speeds on a dime. In addition to that, Green also displays some flashes of footwork, which is seen in the clip below.
Although Green has usually been the go-to scorer whenever on the court, the young guard is unselfish as he looks to find open teammates through either moving the ball around the court or doing some drive-and-dish. Moving onto his work as a shooter, there’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic about how he can progress despite being inefficient during international and prep play. That confidence comes from him having a smooth jumper that he’s confident to use in catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble looks.
With this new G League in California not having a head coach or two players (Green and Isaiah Todd), it’s tough to predict how the young guard will perform at the G League level before how his team will play. . However, it’s clear that the 6’6 guard is a unique player that combines incredible athleticism with a solid skill-set and on-court poise that you don’t usually see from an 18-year old player. All of those reasons are why it’s already clear that Jalen Green is a player with ridiculous upside.