Fil-Am star prospect Jalen Green is just a few weeks away from being a likely top three pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
After a pioneering stint in the NBA G League Ignite pathway program, the 19-year-old guard, who traces his roots back to Ilocos Norte, firmly cemented his place as one of the draft’s best prospects alongside Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley.
Officially being listed as a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, Green is a confident three-level scorer who can be plugged into any modern-day lineup, which can only mean that a lot of the top teams have their eyes on him.
Here, Green’s fit will be analyzed as far back as the fifth team in the draft, and how he can immediately help each squad’s fortunes when he finally makes his big league debut.
Although the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Cunningham is widely regarded as a no-brainer No. 1 pick for the rebuilding Pistons, the lanky 180-pound Green is also a nice fit for the Motor City in case the team gets cold feet with their supposed first choice.
With the offensive-minded Green still being a work in progress on the defensive end, he can play smoothly alongside the Pistons’ 6-foot-5 point guard Killian Hayes, who averaged 7.6 points, 5.9 assists, and an impressive 1.3 steals since recovering from a lengthy hip injury.
He can also come off the bench as a capable sixth man behind high-flyer Hamidou Diallo, and play alongside other spark plugs like Josh Jackson and Dennis Smith Jr.
As the 2020-2021 season proved, debuting off the bench can help youngsters ease into the blistering modern NBA pace, as both Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball and runner-up Anthony Edwards started off as sixth men before blossoming into full-fledged starters.
The Rockets surely know a thing or two about utilizing tall, athletic guards, and Green will surely fit like a glove in the place that Tracy McGrady and James Harden once called home.
Although the 7-foot Mobley is the likely pick for now as a potential “twin tower” partner for breakout star Christian Wood, Green should also have no problem on paper playing alongside fellow guards John Wall and Kevin Porter Jr.
He can also take Eric Gordon’s spot from the bench if he leaves, or play along with him if he stays. It will all be a matter of finding the right amount of minutes in the rotation.
While Wall and Porter are both ball-dominant scorers and facilitators, Green has proven in his G League stint that he is also a potential off-ball threat, since his teammates Jarrett Jack, Daishen Nix, and Jonathan Kuminga frequently ate up the usage rate.
For a team that once fielded 6-foot-5 PJ Tucker at center, getting back height is certainly a priority for a new Rockets era with a potential Mobley pick. But settling for Green to boost an already potent offense is also never a bad thing in today’s NBA.
If both Cunningham and Mobley are off the draft board when the third pick comes, then the Cavaliers will have to think hard on what to do next.
Do they trade away the pick, possibly along with Kevin Love, for proven talent? Do they trade up the board or down for more assets? Or do they just stick with their pick, and draft the best talent available?
If the Cavaliers are indeed looking for the best talent left, then they can’t go wrong with picking one of the Jalens likely left on the board, Suggs and Green.
Since Suggs is only around 6-foot-3, and they already have 6-foot-2 Collin Sexton and 6-foot-1 Darius Garland leading the backcourt, then the 6-foot-6 Green fits the bill as a potential small-ball wing or the first guard off the bench.
Unless Love is dealt away to a contender, Cleveland will then have to figure out a crowded rotation featuring him, Sexton, Garland, Cedi Osman, Taurean Prince, Larry Nance Jr., Jarrett Allen, and finally, the incoming Green.
Regardless, an oversupply of solid rotational pieces is a good problem to have anyway.
The next move of the 2019 champion Raptors will all depend on where their longtime leader Kyle Lowry decides to spend the twilight of his career.
If he moves on to a more established contender, then the team can just slot in Fred VanVleet as the full-time point guard before picking either Suggs or Green to fill in the shooting guard spot.
If Lowry stays, however, then Green will certainly have to come off the bench since Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, VanVleet, Lowry, and either Khem Birch or Aron Baynes are already a solid group of starters.
But as already mentioned before, Green will certainly help any team no matter what spot he is plugged into. Plus as a fun thing to note, the title of “Air Canada” has been vacant since DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, and Terrence Ross left the building.
As Green already proved in numerous dunk contests, including one back home in the Philippines, he is a sight to behold when he is cleared for takeoff.
Speaking of Ross, the rebuilding Magic could certainly use a younger replacement for him if he is traded away like his in-prime peers Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon.
Green, if he is somehow passed up by the four previous teams, will almost certainly be a draft steal with Orlando’s fifth pick.
Playing alongside a boatload of young stars like Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, Wendell Carter Jr., Mo Bamba, and Chuma Okeke, the energetic Green can bring back life to a Magic franchise once stuck in a dreaded “no man’s land,” the middle of playoff contention and a full-blown rebuild.
He and Anthony can be a deadly backcourt bench combo or capable stand-in starters to the injury-prone duo of Fultz and former Denver Nuggets rising star Gary Harris.
As the Magic are rebuilding anyway, the team’s next head coach can mix and match his rotation on a daily basis, and Green can flow right along with his fellow young guns as they discover their respective strengths and weaknesses.
Instant fan favorite
Regardless of where a tantalizing talent of Green’s caliber lands in the NBA Draft, he will certainly draw in more new Filipino fans to a team not named the Los Angeles Lakers or the Golden State Warriors.
His impact was already felt during the Ignite bubble season, as the G League’s social media accounts and YouTube channel received a noticeable surge of followers and viewers from rabid Filipino hoops fans aching to see the next Pinoy do well in the NBA.
Once Green inevitably lands himself under the big league spotlight, that following will only grow by leaps and bounds as the NBA continues to go global in the coming years. – Rappler.com