Charisma. Star power. The kids have got new words for it. Aura. Rizz. That’s a fascinating linguistic evolution to me. It obviously derives from charisma - or, if you will, charizzma. There’s been a fascination with “izz” sounds since Snoop Dogg’s ubiquitous hit. Anyway, whatever you call it:
Jalen Green has it.
It’s not worth a can of beans if he can’t make basketball strides. Green’s development is likely the most anticipated component of this season for Rockets fans outside of the win/loss column. We need a third-year leap.
We don’t need the third-year leap. Green doesn’t need to join the ranks of Booker and Mitchell this season. He does need to be better.
What does he need to be better at?
Where do the Rockets need Green to improve?
You know what’s coming. Efficiency. Defense. Playmaking. In my opinion, that’s the hierarchy of needs here.
When it comes to efficiency, there are no remaining excuses. In fairness, there have been plenty. Green has been playing in a non-offense for his first two seasons. His point guard was an off-guard. His head coach was either unfamiliar with the nuances of an NBA offense or beholden to ulterior motives.
Side note: Wow! Ime Udoka’s offense features action. If the Rockets are running a pick-and-roll, somebody sets an off-ball screen for a shooter on the weak side. A set with a plan B. We celebrated in the group chat. Then we laughed. This is like throwing a party because you paid your rent on the first of the month.
Anyway, those excuses are moot. The Rockets have a point guard and real offensive principles. Green posted a 53.8 True Shooting % (TS%) last season. He may not skyrocket this year. The Rockets didn’t build an overnight contender. This team has real spacing concerns, and this still won’t be an optimal environment for a volume scorer. Still, that number needs to jump by a few percentages.
There’s been much handwringing about the impact of tanking on young players. Some of us think it’s a little overstated and fear-mongested. With that said, it’s a factor. It becomes especially pronounced when you watch Jalen Green play defense.
It’s not apathy. Green cares. He wants to lock down his man. Sometimes, he does. The problem is that he is hopelessly lost when off the ball. He watches it. He’s like a good kid in class who gets anxious over math. It’s not that he doesn't want to pay attention: he almost can’t.
He needs to. Get a tutor, do something. Green is unlikely to ever make All-Defensive teams - his scoring load will be too substantial for that to be a fair expectation. Still, he has the athletic tools to make league-average a reasonable bar.
In terms of playmaking, Green is already solid. It’d be nice if he got a little better. He makes solid passing reads. It would be cool to see some more advanced ones.
Perhaps he could pass with a little more rizz.