Prospect Profiles Presented by Panini: Jalen Green
Uber-Athletic Off-Guard Looks to Crack the Draft's Top Three
When it comes to the NBA Draft, there’s that pesky perennial and time-tested debate: Potential vs. the Sure Thing.
Of course, there IS no “sure thing” when it comes to the Draft. But there are players who are safe picks and others who might one day blossom in superstars. In 2013, Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo and Otto Porter Jr. – who all had solid college numbers – were the first three players off the board. A skinny Greek kid most people had never heard of named Giannis Antetokounmpo went No. 15.
That’s not to say the Bucks were any smarter than other NBA teams any more than the Patriots outsmarted other NFL squads when they took Tom Brady in the sixth round. If teams knew then what they know now, the Greek Freak and Tom Terrific would’ve gone No 1.
On Monday, Cavs.com took a look at Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, who’s been the odds-on favorite to be the top pick this year. Talent evaluators have called him the most complete prospect in the Draft. But many of those same experts say that shooting guard Jalen Green might actually possess the greatest upside.
Like his teammate with the G-League’s Ignite, Jonathan Kuminga, the highly recruited, highly decorated (having won three Gold medals at the junior level for the USA) Green bypassed the chance to play college ball. Green was very good in his lone campaign with Brian Shaw’s squad, averaging 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per through 15 starts.
At 6-6, 180, the lithe northern California native still has to grow into his frame, but Green has the potential to be the most dynamic physical prospect this year’s Draft. Scouts feel he has the potential to hit the ground running – a 20 points a night guy from the start and a natural scorer who might one day lead the league.
Green can score from outside, refining his three-point shot during his single G-League season, and can get to the rim with ease from anywhere on the floor. He’s an explosive, above-the-rim player who can finish through traffic with both hands. Offensively, he’s got the entire package.
On the defensive end, Green has all the physical tools to become elite one day, but he’s still considered rough around the edges. Scouts also love his competitive fire, instincts and high basketball IQ.
With about a week to go before, Green seems to have solidified himself on most Draft boards. And it sure seems that if he lasts until the Cavaliers make their pick, he won’t be there afterward.
- Height: 6-6
- Weight: 180
- Position: G
- Team: G-League Ignite
STRENGTHS Green has already proven to be an efficient scorer from all three levels. He’s got a silky-smooth shooting touch from deep, shows a polished mid-range game and is fearless attacking the rim. He’s got an explosive first step and plays above the rim, where can finish creatively with either hand.
While not a pure playmaker, Green has shown the ability to feed his teammates, especially in transition. He’s got a natural feel for the game for a young player and is already a very good decision-maker.
This past season for the Ignite, Green shot 46 percent from the floor, 37 percent from long-range and 83 percent from the stripe. He can score from anywhere in the halfcourt and is a nightmare on the break.
Defensively, Green learned on the job last year but has all the tools to excel on that end at the pro level. He’s got great lateral quickness, outstanding footwork and quick hands – he averaged 1.5 spg last year.
WEAKNESSES In the immediate future, Green will need to work on adding some muscle to a wiry frame that will put him at a disadvantage against bigger, stronger competition. Green’s lack of bulk might be a reason he’s not very aggressive on the boards, where he can get pushed around.
Green will also need to tighten up his handle and while he’s a willing passer, can be slightly turnover-prone which might limit him from assuming lead guard duties.
Overall, once the young man starts adding muscle and gaining experience, there shouldn’t be many holes left in his game.
HOW HE'D FIT Not many teams will even have the chance to ponder the question of how Jalen Green would fit. He’ll be long gone by the time they’re ready to make their pick – and could very well be a Piston or Rocket by the time Cleveland’s on the clock.
If he’s available, it’s hard to believe the Cavs wouldn’t snatch up the uber-athletic wing immediately. The Wine and Gold have invested plenty into their backcourt, but an off-guard with Green’s upside would be too tempting to pass up. Pairing him with Darius Garland in the backcourt, bringing him off the bench, going small and playing him at the 3 are all possibilities. How to make it all work would be a conversation for July 30 and beyond.
Green will be one of the first handful of names called by Adam Silver. It looks like the only question now is which of the top three teams will be turning in the card.