In the NBA, no matter who it is, if they want to become an elite scorer, they have to be able to get to the free throw line on a consistent game-in and game-out basis, especially as a guard. The best perimeter scorers have lived at the free-throw line from Michael Jordan to James Harden.
Jalen Green hopes to one day be mentioned with some of the great scorers, and we saw him take a big step toward this past season. Green went from 17.3 points per game in his rookie season to 22.1 points a game in his second year. A big part of that was the increased strength that helped him absorb contact better and made it easier for him to finish at the rim.
That led to an increase in free throw attempts from 263 in his first season to 463 in his second season. That is a massive jump for any player, let alone a player in his second season. Green still has to become a more consistent outside shooter, as his three-point percentage and overall field-goal percentage dropped this past season, but getting to the free-throw line makes up for the lack of shooting.
The emphasis on building up strength and being able to take more contact was something Green and the coaching staff had talked about all season. Former Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas speaks on Green's off-season work.
For him, it was his body this summer. He’s been diligent as far as getting his work in, in the weight room. He hasn’t gained a whole bunch of weight, as far as looking like he’s so much stronger, but he is.
You can see it when he’s doing drills. His range is deeper. When he changes direction, it’s so quick and explosive. He’s already top of the league in explosiveness, but you can see that he’s more stable and stronger. He can take a little bump and still finish.
His big jump will be as a result of his work in the weight room. I’ve seen that before, with guys. Their body changes, and they just get better, stronger, and more consistent. Taking those bumps and bruises as the season goes along, he’ll be able to maintain and sustain as a result of the work he’s done this summer.
That credit goes to Willie Cruz, the Rockets strength and conditioning coach. I asked Coach Silas about Green's improved strength, and Stephen Silas talked about the work Cruz did with Green before the season.
He was so diligent this summer in the weight room. Him and Willie Cruz were all over the world this summer.
They were together and they made sure he got his work in the weight room because we knew if he didn't touch a basketball all summer the weight room was going to be the thing for him.
This bodes well for Green going forward because he increased his points per game by almost five points, and his outside shooting was inconsistent at best. His scoring will increase even more when his shooting catches up with the rest of his game.
By comparison, one of his main contemporaries Anthony Edwards only increased his free throw attempts from 272 to 280. Green second-year jump is also more than players like Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine. All players that Green has been compared to at one time or another.
With another season to work on his game and the Rockets looking for the first time to bring in talent via free agency Green could be in line for a breakout third season as the Rockets look to move past the first phase of their rebuild and start winning.