Jalen Green Rumors: SG Has 'Strong Desire' to Be Top Pick; Seen as 'Lock' for Rockets

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 25, 2021

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 8: Jalen Green #4 of Team Ignite drives to the basket against the Raptors 905 during the NBA G League Playoffs on March 8, 2021 at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Cade Cunningham has long been the favorite to be the top player off the board at Thursday's NBA draft. Though that still appears to be the case, momentum seems to be growing for Jalen Green to be the selection for the Houston Rockets at No. 2 overall. 

According to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, Green "has a strong desire to be the No. 1 pick" but would be "happy to go second ... with some [NBA teams] going as far as to describe that as being close to a lock."

Givony added that the Rockets "have been stonewalled in their attempts to bring in Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs for private workouts," increasing the likelihood of Green being the selection. 

But there's an argument to be made that Green has the most upside in the draft. 

The Ringer @ringer

19-year-old Jalen Green decided to forgo college and enter the NBA G League last year. And then he overshadowed grown men. Now he’s shooting up draft boards and making people question whether he’s the best prospect in the draft.<a href="https://twitter.com/jkylemann?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jkylemann</a> explains why: <a href="https://t.co/vMVFJaHONv">pic.twitter.com/vMVFJaHONv</a>

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic wrote that Green is "about as projectable a 20-point-per-game scoring guard as has entered the draft in a while. The combination of his skill level, handle and elite-level athleticism is going to allow him to get buckets at an exceedingly high level."

Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer has called him a "highlight reel waiting to happen who can score from all over the court but needs to polish the technical aspects of his game."

And B/R's Jonathan Wasserman believes Green "has the edge for the Rockets" over Mobley and Suggs at No. 2 "given the team's need for more creation and scoring, and the high likelihood that his quickness, explosion, one-on-one game and shot-making will translate." 

NBA G League @nbagleague

relive <a href="https://twitter.com/JalenGreen?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JalenGreen</a>'s top performance of the season as we get closer to next week's <a href="https://twitter.com/NBADraft?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBADraft</a>!<br><br>30 PTS | 7 AST | 5 REB | 3 STL...in the playoffs! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NextIsNow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NextIsNow</a> <a href="https://t.co/isWOzTJDSZ">pic.twitter.com/isWOzTJDSZ</a>

It's a make-or-miss league, and Green has showed the ability to get buckets. He averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals for the G League Ignite in 15 games, shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from three. 

Impressive numbers, considering he was facing far better competition than he would have seen in college. 

As for the Rockets, they need to take the top player on their board, full stop. They are in a full rebuild, and while they have some nice young building blocks (namely Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood), Green would give them the sort of potential future star every rebuild needs. 

Givony wrote that it would be "extremely surprising" if the Detroit Pistons didn't draft Cunningham at No. 1. It's starting to feel just as likely that Green will be off the board right behind him.