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Is Jalen Green getting the basketball enough?

The Rockets rookie’s lack of touches is puzzling fans.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

When the Houston Rockets drafted Jalen Green last summer, fans immediately imagined him in the future dribbling the ball up court and taking over games as he had done in high school, AAU and the G-League.

Fans weren’t really expecting seeing him in the corner that P.J. Tucker lived in for his tenure in Houston waiting for someone else to give him the ball.

As of now, Green is the future of the Houston Rockets. He’s got the highest ceiling out of any player currently on the roster, and this season has shown glimpses of that superstar potential.

Through his first 30 NBA games, Green is third amongst rookies averaging 15 points per game shooting just under 40 percent from the field. He’s had his ups and downs during his first season in the NBA, but he’s proven at times why he was the No. 2 pick in the draft. He’s also proven at times how he’s only 19 years old, turning the ball over 2.5 times per game.

Green has proven that he is Houston’s best scorer moving forward, so why is he standing in the corner waiting for the ball to come to him?

There isn’t a clear reason why. There are numerous reasons that aren’t exactly clear, but there are some that we can come to based on context clues.

By standing in the corner, Green creates a substantive amount of space, which is a strategy used by every team in the league. Every team puts players in the corner to create space for the ball handler to drive through the lane and perhaps kick out to a good shooter in the corner.

Given the Rockets’ wonky-looking roster, there aren’t many wings, meaning other guards (and sometimes bigs) often have to play the wing role. Green is one of those players.

But still, as the Rockets’ future leading scorer for years to come, shouldn’t he be getting more touches?

According to u/i-race-goats on the Rockets subreddit, Green is last among rookies that average 30 minutes or more in touches per game, while ranking first in points per touch.

This means that Green isn’t getting the ball as often as other rookies, but he is making it count when he does. This is a sign of someone who is efficient with the basketball.

So, the answer is yes, he should get the ball more often. But it isn’t quite that simple. The Rockets face another issue with their roster. There are too many players that need “development” and reps, and unfortunately, there is only one basketball to give around.

The Rockets have also proven this season that the team is prioritizing development over wins. While wins would be nice, the Rockets are using this year as a building block to get to the next contending team for the organization by developing young talent.

The team has opted to prioritize Kevin Porter Jr.’s development as the point guard and build the foundation of the team around him. In order for Porter Jr. to grow into the point guard role, touches from Green must be conceded. I think it’s something that Green is fine with for now, considering how high he is on him and KPJ being one of the prominent backcourts in the NBA. In order for them to work as a pair, Porter Jr. needs to become more comfortable handling the ball.

The reason Porter Jr.’s development might be taking priority over other players is his timeline. Porter Jr. is eligible for an extension this offseason, and the Rockets need to get as much of an evaluation as possible to offer him the correct contract.

Once next season rolls around, I’d expect more of Green and Porter Jr. to share ball-handling duties. Maybe not a 50-50 split, but enough to where Green is getting the ball a little bit more as he acclimates to the NBA game.

The amount of potential Green has shown from his first cup of tea in the NBA is enough to tell that he will be a star for the team for hopefully a long time. And with the team struggling this season, it would be nice to see a little bit more of the future phenom. However, if he were to get more looks, it wouldn’t exactly change much of the trajectory of the team moving forward. The team would still be bad this year because there isn’t enough talent around Green and we wouldn’t know much of the potential of the teammates around him and whether he is the right fit.

Ultimately, I expect Green to be the primary player for the Rockets and the team will be built around him moving forward. But are his teammates the right people to surround him with? That question is being answered as we speak.

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