Several minutes after the Houston Rockets sustained a 30-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, Jalen Green remained on the floor of the Toyota Center as the only player to engage in a post-game workout. Just him and one team official — who served as a rebounder for every shot attempted.
With each shot that graced the bottom of the net, it’s hard not to assume that Green wished each completed basket would have taken place amid the 32 minutes he played during the Rockets’ loss to the Spurs.
Green ended the game with seven points while missing 13 out of his 16 shot attempts from the field. To make matters worse for the No. 2 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, Green scored five of his seven points within the first six minutes of the game.
Green’s performance against the Spurs marked the third consecutive game he failed to score 10 or more points. Over the previous three contests, Green has averaged 5.6 points while shooting an appalling 14 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Its distance from the auspicious production Green produced during the first 30 games of his NBA career, where he averaged 15.0 points on 39.6 percent shooting from the floor.
With the Rockets a little over the halfway mark of the 2022 campaign, Green isn’t the first — nor will he be the last — high draft prospect to experience a mid-season recession due to the inevitable rookie wall. Or as Green put it following practice Thursday afternoon, “It’s a game of highs and lows.”
“Jalen has to trust the work that he is putting in, and he has put in a ton of work. He has to continue to take the good looks that he has because he has been getting good looks. As soon as Jalen starts doubting that process, then I would feel it is a problem. He is not shying away. He is continuing to work. And he will shake out of it. I am definitely confident in that.” — Stephen Silas
Green is under the most suitable stewardship playing under Silas as he tries to maneuver his way through the first offensive slump of his professional career. Silas, who spent 20 years as an assistant before taking over as the head coach of the Rockets, has a plethora of experiences guiding some of the most prominent players through the rookie wall with stops in Cleveland, Golden State, Charlotte and Dallas.
In Silas’ recent assessment of his rookie, Green hasn’t had bad games due to his lack of scoring. He is just missing shots. For Silas, Green’s slump is a way for him to learn how to impact the game in a positive way beyond putting the ball in the basket.
One moment that stood out to Silas during Green’s shooting endeavors was the late-game offensive rebound he recorded during the closing seconds of the Rockets’ 105-103 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday.
Over the past few weeks, Silas has oppugned Green into using his athleticism more to assist the Rockets in gaining additional offensive possessions with rebounds. In two out of the last four games, Green seized the opportunity by registering two clutch rebounds — one ensued in Houston’s 118-112 victory over the Sacramento Kings on January 16.
“Jalen wants it. He wants to be the best he can be for this team and himself. We believe in Jalen so much, and he knows that we do. A part of that comes because we expect a lot from him. I know there’s a lot on his shoulders right now, and he has to just get out of it. He’s a great shooter. He’s a great player. Everyone has a slump like this. He’ll be good.” — Kevin Porter Jr.
Each player who stepped onto an NBA floor has had their share of struggles as a rookie, and the ample amount of growth that can ensue into a successful career is an undeniable gem waiting at the end of the road.
There’s no timetable on how long Green’s offensive woes will last. Worst case scenario, Green can go the rest of his rookie season averaging less than 10.0 points, shooting an appalling 14 percent from the field.
But when he does have a breakthrough performance, one can assure that Green will enter a zone that will substantiate his promise as the Rockets’ future star of tomorrow. It will be the delinquent zone Green felt when each shot passed through the nets of an empty Toyota Center during a post-game workout on a nippy night in late January.