2021 NBA Draft: Best Fits for G League Star Jalen Green
Jalen Green was a projected top-five NBA draft pick entering the G League bubble, and he's delivering on those expectations. Lottery teams can now start thinking about how he fits with their roster, feeling more confident that he's the real deal.
Through eight G League games, Green is averaging 17.6 points and 2.5 assists while shooting 50.0 percent overall and 37.8 percent from three. Those numbers aren't far off from Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham, the favorite to be selected No. 1 overall, who's playing against weaker competition.
With Green likely to draw consideration from every team picking early in the 2021 NBA draft, we pinpointed his best and most interesting fits. We only considered teams currently projected to miss the playoffs.
If the Atlanta Hawks draft Green, they could eventually unleash one of the NBA's highest-scoring backcourts. He could be the missing piece for a team that needs another creator to take pressure off Trae Young.
Joining a lineup with such a ball-dominant guard would require an adjustment for Green. But he's proving to be adaptable in the G League bubble with his role and new teammates.
Few ball-handlers are capable of drawing more defensive attention than Young, whose gravity should lead to more space for Green and less need to create something out of nothing.
Between Green's isolation game, improved shot-making and secondary playmaking, he'd make an already-potent starting lineup tougher to defend.
The Detroit Pistons can offer Green a giant rookie role. He'd get the start right away and No. 2-option touches in a lineup that features budding scorer Jerami Grant.
Detroit would be an attractive landing spot for Green because of how many on-ball reps he'd receive to test and strengthen his creation skills and build his playmaking IQ.
There also shouldn't be much concern about his fit alongside Killian Hayes, who doesn't project as a high-usage or shot-hunting ball-handler early in his career.
Green could play through mistakes, get up shots and generate stats right away. The only question is whether general manager Troy Weaver can add enough other talent to the roster over the next few years.
With the Houston Rockets, Green would receive a balanced mix of on-ball reps and talent to play off.
He'd get plenty of early minutes, especially if Victor Oladipo leaves Houston in the next few months, but he wouldn't have too heavy of a workload as a creator alongside John Wall or Christian Wood. Green could be more patient picking his spots to attack while learning to use his athleticism for scoring when he isn't working on the ball.
He'd also see more spot-up shooting attempts next to Wall. That may help Green to develop his versatility in the long run, considering he is more used to shooting off the dribble.
With Wall now in his 30s, Green's usage would rise throughout his rookie contract. By his second season in Houston—which would be the final year of Wall's contract—the offense should start running more through Green, similar to the way the Chicago Bulls offense goes through Zach LaVine from the 2-guard position.
If Green joined the Memphis Grizzlies, he'd form the NBA's most athletic backcourt with Ja Morant.
Memphis hasn't received much production from the 2-guard spot in recent years. With Green plugged in there, Morant could focus more on playmaking.
Meanwhile, Green could operate as a go-to scoring wing, which the team needs even at full strength when Jaren Jackson Jr. returns.
The Grizzlies are headed in the right direction with a pair of budding stars and promising role players in Brandon Clarke, Desmond Bane and Xavier Tillman. The addition of a likely 20-point-per-game weapon such as Green should move the needle for Memphis.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder boast a roster of young players on similar timelines to Green.
The Thunder are in the early stages of a rebuild, which has tempered short-term expectations. Green may feel as though he could play more freely, without the pressure to immediately win games or intimidating veterans to please.
His on-court fit with the Thunder looks promising as well. He could pair his explosiveness next to the craftier Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Even with Gilgeous-Alexander soaking up touches, Green wouldn't be facing a shortage of opportunities. OKC would build its identity around its backcourt.
With a boatload of draft picks over the next few years and enough cap room to chase free agents, the Thunder are in a strong position to rebuild, especially if they're able to land Green.
The Orlando Magic are interesting at full strength, and they'd become even more intriguing with the addition of Green.
The Magic may need Green more than he needs them, as their offensive rating has finished in the 20s every season since 2012-13. However, defenses could struggle containing a guard trio of Green, Cole Anthony and a healthy Markelle Fultz when their primary focus is still on stopping Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon.
Throw in defensive difference-maker Jonathan Isaac back into the mix upon his return from an ACL injury, and the Magic would suddenly have a rotation of diverse weapons.
Orlando would offer Green an opportunity to step into a starting lineup that already features established talent. He could be a key to unlocking it and propelling the Magic over the hump they've been stuck on.