Dissecting Jalen Green’s Decision Making: Golden State vs Houston

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Jalen Green has had a slow start to what has been projected to be a breakout year for the third year swingman. Upon watching Sunday night’s game against Golden State, I decided to deep dive into why his efficiency still remains an uphill battle. Let’s look at it play-by-play, dissecting several of his 12 missed shots.

**Note**: Some plays already have pre-written notes on them, so elaboration may be shorter or longer on some than others.

Play #1

As the bubble shows, Jalen Green misses Jeff Green on the pop who is wide open following 3 defenders in the vicinity including the drop defender in Dario Saric. This should be a simple read, but with too strong of a focus on scoring, Green never registers the open popping screen. This will become somewhat of a common theme.

Play #2

As the text on the video says, Jalen Green gets a P&R via hand-off, but misses the bounce pass window when Looney starts to commit with Wiggins behind him, and knowing the personnel that Curry is unlikely to rip Green loose on the catch due to strength and size. While going for the floater is not an inherently bad shot or choice, he still did not make the best decision on this play for the team.

Play #3

Similar to the other plays, this isn’t an overall awful shot, given that this was almost a 2-for-1. However, the shot felt rushed given the low shot clock. Additionally, Looney stays dropped against the P&R and Wiggins stays with Green, having left Sengun open.

Another option would have been to pass to Jabari Smith in the corner as Fred VanVleet goes for the screen after Green uses the screen.

This was not the best shot the offense could have gotten up, and Green has too much NBA experience under his belt not to make this play with time to spare.

Play #4

Another common theme with Green is that he forces tough one-on-one shots early in the clock. Given that Sengun, who often runs the offense, was wide open with Looney playing the paint, the wise move would have been to not shoot this over a good Draymond Green contest, but rather let the offense naturally flow. Some context to this play is that Green had only touched the ball once (to make a transition post entry pass to a mismatch leading to a foul) in the prior three possessions, and the fourth prior possession he was denied a hand-off play that led to a Sengun made basket, but he put his arms up and gave up on the play. Video is below:

Play #5

Not much more to add here, but this is also a common problem for Green: he puts his head down with no plan, and once he’s met with resistance he only puts a heave up at the rim, hoping he gets magic touch. This may come with time, since this is a move that he often won with against high school competition, but will have to get better at with NBA reps.

Play #6

The caption in the video captures most of this, but Green goes straight at the defender instead of picking up his dribble and using his two steps with his good slow-down ability, which could have allowed for one of the other two defenders in the paint to help, freeing up a teammate. Luckily, the Rockets kept possession, but this is another example of unplanned attacking the rim.

Play #7

This ended up being a crucial play, down 2 points with just over 6 minutes left in the game. This is about as simple and standard of an extra pass as there is, but Green missed an open Dillon Brooks. This felt rushed given that he started his motion one second into the refreshed 14 second shot clock, and never registered anything but the rim in his sights.

Overall, Green can still fix these issues given that he is 21 years old, the season is still brand new, and Ime Udoka’s impact won’t be felt right away. However, these negative habits that have stagnated over his first two years with minimal correction are catching up to him more as expectations rise, which can make the habits harder to shake. Green will always fill up the stat sheet, but how efficiently he does it and how much better his scoring makes his team are key elements to his game that he needs to improve if the Rockets want to start pushing for the playoffs this year or next.