In the latest edition of 'P.I. Pulse,' Pro Insight's Aneesh Namburi conducts a deep dive analysis on G-League Ignite prospect and projected top-10 pick, Jalen Green:
Jalen Green was a consensus top-3 high school recruit who took his talents (and his large social media following) to headline the inaugural “G-League Ignite” program. Green is a legit S-tier athlete, with one of the best first steps I’ve seen in recent memory and elite bounce, as well. While still somewhat inconsistent, the improvements he has made in his shotmaking and feel for the game have drawn comparisons to the likes of Zach LaVine. Below is an in-depth scouting report that covers every aspect of his game and how it translates to the NBA, where his strengths lie in addition to potential areas of improvement.
Date of Birth 2/9/2002
Weight 185 lbs.
High: Lead guard type (Zach LaVine-ish), secondary option. Shooting off the catch (slight relocation, too) and effective cutting gives off ball equity. High level scoring/driving gravity (improved handle + strength) draws help consistently, opening passing lanes and makes decisions significantly easier, able to hit pull-up J’s at a solid clip. Average team defender, prone to some lapses but develops rotational understanding. Decent playmaker due to tools, but tendency to gamble. Able to compete adequately defending 1-through-4, but likely will need backside help against bigger wings/forwards.
Median: Guard/wing hybrid creator, tertiary or quaternary starting option. Operates 2nd side PnR semi-effectively due to pull-up 3 + downhill burst. Shoots off the catch and cuts effectively. More of a reactive playmaker, sub-optimal manipulation and feel prevents primary/secondary status, but can work on ball situationally. Below average team defender, prone to some lapses but develops rotational understanding. Decent playmaker due to tools, but tendency to gamble. Adds enough strength to briefly switch 1-through-4, but likely will need backside help against bigger wings/forwards.
Low: Low-usage scorer. Thrives in transition and as a half court shotmaker (attacking hoop advantage situations + pull-up 3s). Streaky shooter off the catch. Tough giving on ball reps due to inconsistent playmaking and handle. Poor team defender, out of position somewhat regularly, trouble nailing rotations. Decent playmaker due to tools, but tendency to gamble. Better on ball defender against 2’s + smaller 3’s, needs help at the screen due to lack of strength (heavily limited when switching).
Green is an elite athlete, possessing outlier characteristics uncommon for all but a select few NBA players. The few weaknesses he does possess are some of the easier tools to develop, which should add the final touches to a functional and exciting athlete. Green’s burst is among the best I have seen, possessing the ability to generate paint touches almost at will even in the G-League. Similarly, Green’s vertical explosiveness is among the best in his class. Not only can he get rim level with unreal speed, but the length of time he’s able to stay in the air and adjust/contort his body allows him to open up even some of the smaller finishing angles. While he does an excellent job trying to initiate contact and attempts to finish through opposing bigs, there’s only so much his sub-200 pound frame can handle, so adding some weight will be conducive to improving these numbers (an easy enough task once he gets in an NBA weight room). This lack of strength and just average length will also likely limit him to being a primary off-ball defender. Additionally, Green’s hips need a little more work. He slides well, but his lack of flexibility keeps him upright and limits the ability to change directions. It probably will not be an immediate fix, but a couple summers of yoga and isolated flexibility training should yield some encouraging results.
Relatively average wingspan for a guard, mitigated due to recovery attributes (burst + vertical)
Hyper elite burst: getting by G-League players like he did in HS, little to no effort
Excellent vertical, innate ability to float in the air + contort body to adjust on finishes
Thin frame + subpar core strength; should be able to add strength but likely to stay skinnier
Should move with fluidity laterally in theory; gets pretty upright in stance so limits mobility
Needs to work on hip flexibility; slower changing directions and has trouble chasing over screens (also partially a strength issue, as well)
Green is in a weird spot offensively, possessing the scoring profile of a shotmaking wing but most likely close to guard creator size. He’s flashed a lot of individual shot making elements, but needs to fine tune areas of his game in order to play efficient, winning basketball. Green excels as a shotmaker and getting to the rim, utilizing his aforementioned physical tools to open up creases for himself. He can accentuate these strengths by narrowing down the variability/balance in his shot mechanics, as well as adding strength to handle contact from NBA level rim protectors. The next step for Green’s offensive development is working out of primary pick-and-rolls, specifically as a playmaker. Right now, Green struggles in this area due to his lack of handle in tight spaces, inconsistent playmaking, and lack of an in-between game. Green did improve significantly as a shooter off the catch, but like I mentioned earlier, his mechanics still need some consistency before he becomes a real threat. Due to his aforementioned weaknesses, Green will likely be limited to attacking advantage scenarios (coming off hand offs, second side PnRs, etc.). He is an aggressive and efficient athlete in transition, probably his most translatable strength. Green didn’t show much as a cutter in the bubble, but has the physical attributes to become a positive one, although cutting is as much mental as physical.
58/81 within restricted area this season
Creates a high baseline due to ability to get higher + stay in the air longer than most defenders
Good, not great touch around the hoop; seems more focused navigating contact
Super aggressive attacking the rim, but just straight up at a strength disadvantage; will need to spend time in the weight room in order to be able to attack more naturally against NBA bigs
No issue using either hand on both sides of the hoop; loves up and under move while staying on the same side of the basket
0.924 PPP on 118 jumpshots in HC (46.2% eFG)
Able to pull off high level of difficulty of shotmaking due to space creation
Significant improvements to shooting over last 18 months, now projects as above-average
Overall mechanics positive, still needs some consistency; doesn’t transfer energy too well leading to some short misses; tendency to set up narrow; occasional elbow flare
Really high handle and often too far in front of him, makes it tough for him to piece together moves in half court/tight spaces effectively; improved significantly in G-League
Should work on how/when to use certain moves to exacerbate advantages
Excellent straight line driver, specifically attacking downhill off catch against closeouts
Space creation generated more from explosiveness/deceleration rather than moves
On-Ball (Pick-and-Roll, Isolation)
Poor statistically in the PnR during G-League season (.538 PPP on 65 possessions, 32.7% eFG)
Tough for him to navigate drop big waiting for him at the hoop + poor mid-range shooter, defender can just deter pull-up 3 and push him downhill
Starting him off as a second side PnR guy (mostly empty side too, shooters will be in vision) is an ideal developmental plan
Inconsistent as a playmaker coming off ball screens; high degree of difficulty but 1) misses easy reads semi-often 2) the more high level passes are off target more than you’d like
Showed real iso flashes in the G-League with ability to get downhill + shot making capabilities; could be tough to stop in late clock situations (.816 PPP on 49 possessions, 50% eFG)
Off-Ball (Catch-and-Shoot, Movement Shooting, Cutting)
1.000 PPP on 56 C&S possessions in HC (50% eFG)
1.121 PPP on 58 spot-up possessions (62.0% eFG)
High level transition athlete, does a great job utilizing burst + vertical explosiveness; 1.378 PPP on 45 transition possessions (81.8% eFG)
Will need to work on hip flexibility before movement shooting comes into the realm of possibilities; Mostly looking downhill or stringing out into a re-attack from movement
Low volume as a cutter but effective in limited sample; 1.556 PPP on 9 possessions (77.8% eFG)
Can he gain the IQ/understanding to attack creases in the defense?
Developing an understanding of court mapping/processing as well as playmaking
Improved significantly as a positive impact player in a team construct, was a concern in prep
Not a very natural playmaker on secondary actions, more wired to score here
Might have tried to skip steps, can miss easy read while looking for advanced stuff
Slightly jumper happy (especially looking at the half-court numbers); on the surface has the excuse of his frame but the way he attacks the hoop + tries to initiate contact he should be getting to the hoop more often
Green will most likely end up as a slightly below-average to average defender, but his level of offensive potency will determine to what level his defensive shortcomings will be allowed to slide. He had not really been incentivized to learn defensive rotations until joining the G-League, so it’s unsurprising to see that he was pretty inconsistent. Green is still understanding how to position himself in certain scenarios, as well as anticipating certain actions in order to take away potential offensive advantages. Due to his lack of accountability at youth levels and the common learning processes of young players, this leads to occasional lapses while ball watching. However, he did get better over the G-League season, and his physical tools have helped close some gaps for him. Green is not the most natural team defender (overwhelmingly reaction-based), and gambles a decent amount off-ball, leading to mixed results. Stuck as a bit of a positional tweener, Green struggles defending at the point of attack and getting over screens, primarily due to a lack of strength and wiggle caused by stiff hips. As he’s working to address these deficiencies to become a competent off-guard/small wing defender, studying the scouting report will be key in minimizing opponent advantages. While I doubt Green ever adds enough muscle to be a full time switch defender, it seems pretty likely he will be a passable non-primary guard/wing defender.
On-Ball (Isolation, Pick-and-Roll, Post Defense)
Both technique + IQ need works here, but some impressive flashes in the G-League
Able to mitigate/prevent advantage from KPJ on a few possessions (walled up as much as possible and slid feet with solid anticipation); strength will be the biggest concern defending iso
Will need to add strength + live reps to be able to understand how to defend PoA for PnR
Dependent on increasing range of motion, allows him to get in deeper stance, use explosion better when flipping hips
Off-Ball and Team Defense
Giving real effort for the most part, still learning positioning
Physical tools are definitely there to be help and recover quickly (and impactfully)
Prone to ball watching
Has trouble getting over off-ball screens
Will definitely take gambles on passes, has toned down more in the G-League; misses are more being late rather than laziness/low intelligence plays
Made sure to stay physical while tagging rollers multiple times
Other (Rim Protection, Rebounding, Switchability)
Weakside rim protection skills will depend on how his positional understanding of rotations improves, doubt it will ever be consistent, but maybe some flashes plays due to vertical
Not much of a rebounder due to position + lack of strength; can use vertical to pull down boards and quickly initiate break
Could switch 1 thru smaller 4’s down the road, likely will defend 2’s + smaller 3’s early
Will need immediate help early on if switched onto bigs, stronger wings
Jalen Green is a classic top tier prospect, one with outstanding physical gifts who NBA teams hope they can help mold into a high level offensive option. Green (similar to Anthony Edwards just last year) is a great developmental case study in how to develop the very broadly described “feel” to a prospect with elite tools and shotmaking potential. Whereas Edwards has more or less been thrown into the fire with Minnesota (partly due to injuries), my hypothesis with Green is starting him in a limited role where he still gets creation reps but 1) its not dependent for the offense to succeed and 2) he’s held accountable for his mistakes is the best avenue for success. Offensively, running him in second side situations allows his burst to immediately put defenses in a bind when rotating, and he seems to have developed a respectful enough jumper off the bounce. Starting out as a tertiary playmaker and giving him those reads from a tilted D should also further develop his decision making, specifically in PnR situations. In order to put that pressure on NBA defenses, Green’s handle in tight spaces needs to improve drastically in order to navigate increased on-ball usage, and adding onto his slight frame should turn him into an above average finisher. As previously mentioned, Green’s defense sort of depends on his offensive ceiling. I see a flatter distribution curve in terms of ranges of outcomes, as I think his physical tools and recovery abilities will always prevent Green from being a large negative. However, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. His lack of strength and lack of hip flexibility hurts him defending iso and PnR situations, and Green does not fully understand where to be in terms of defensive positioning. Despite this, he’s given us some real flashes both on and off the ball, giving hope to develop into a net neutral defender (dependent on offensive value).
Green is a special talent, and him not being a top-2 pick shows the top level strength of this 2021 draft class. While he isn’t a lock for the third pick, it seems pretty assured he will be off the board well before the first 10 picks are completed. While his shot selection is better than Ant Edwards, his best initial fit is putting him in a low usage role where he can start out attacking second side situations. His development, similar to Zach LaVine, will rely on essentially hitting his ceiling in terms of playmaking and overall IQ/feel (specifically in the PnR), a tough level to reach but certainly within the realm of possibilities. In that role, Green could be an extremely valuable second or third option on a true contender.