In contrast to the majority of the top prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft, Jalen Green decided to forgo his college eligibility in favour of signing with the G League Ignite, a developmental team dedicated to fostering elite NBA talent.
The team had its inaugural season in March with 15 games in a bubble at Orlando, Fla.
During the season, the 19-year-old guard averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from beyond the arc. Green also exploded for 30 points, five rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in a playoff loss against the Raptors 905, which officially ended the Ignite’s season.
It was there that Green established himself as one of the premier scorers entering the draft and showed why he was the top high school prospect in the class of 2020.
With the NBA draft fast approaching, the 6-foot-6, 178-pound shooting guard is projected to be a top-five pick, which means the Toronto Raptors may have a chance to add an elite scorer to their roster.
Here’s how Green’s offensive arsenal could impact Toronto:
In contrast to Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, or Jalen Suggs, Green had the opportunity to compete against grown men and learn from NBA veterans like Jarrett Jack and Amir Johnson, which may have helped accelerate his development at the professional level.
However, matching up with more experienced players didn’t seem to stifle his confidence. Instead, it allowed Green to hone his skills on the offensive end, while working through any challenges throughout games.
He also has solid ball-handling skills, which pair nicely with his ability as a shot creator. As long as the ball is in his hands, expect Green to create separation between him and his defender — whether it’s a step-back three-pointer, a mid-range fadeaway, or in a pick-and-roll situation.
As Green learns to properly read the floor and improve upon his decision-making, it’ll provide more depth and another weapon in his arsenal, which will force defenders to pay more attention to him.
As with most high-volume shooters, Green has a tendency to be streaky.
While his shooting percentages from the field and the three-point line were good in 2021, it was a small sample size, which means he is likely to hit a shooting slump over the course of an 82-game regular season.
That’s not to say he’ll never have a consistent shooting stroke, it’ll just require time and practice. Green also struggles in catch-and-shoot situations, so being able to let it fly on a consistent basis will further increase his usage.
On the defensive end, Green can sometimes lack the equal amount of intensity and attentiveness compared to when he’s on offence. However, he is still learning and has shown better defensive effort in the G League.
Despite weighing in at 178 pounds, Green seemed to have no trouble against G League players, but he may not fare as well against bigger matchups in the NBA due to his thin frame.
Although we’ve seen his playmaking skills start to develop, he still has a ways to go in terms of creating more shot opportunities for his teammates, and knowing when to slow the pace for the right play as opposed to looking to score each trip.
During a film session with ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz, Green acknowledged the flaws in his game and where he could improve. He’s also shown accountability for his on-court mistakes and a willingness to learn.
Fit with the Raptors
Kyle Lowry’s future with the Raptors remains unclear, but his presence on the team would surely be missed if he left, especially since there aren’t many guys on the roster aside from Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet who can create their own shot.
Green would immediately become one of the team’s go-to scorers, which could provide a spark whenever the team gets cold from the field.
Throughout the 2020-21 campaign, the Raptors lost multiple games after long stretches in the third quarter where they couldn’t buy a bucket. Green could change that dynamic with his scoring versatility.
However, the roster lineups may not be as flexible due to Green’s lack of playmaking and inconsistency on defence. It wouldn’t necessarily be the best fit at first, and there would be some growing pains throughout the season, but he could pay off in the long run.
If the Raptors decide to draft Suggs or Green, the roster would be quite guard-heavy and the team would still have a glaring hole at the centre position.
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