• Brian L. Barefield

Rockets Jalen Green Ready To Shed “Rookie” Label

Photo Credit- Houston Rockets

The media huddled around the Houston Rockets practice facility microphone, still laughing about rookie Alperen Sengun’s favorite English phrase he learned during his first year in the United States. Another young man walks in with a massive smile and greets everyone in his presence.

SideNote: The phrase Sengun learned was “FaSho,” which translates into “For Sure” and was taught to him by teammate Josh Christopher.

That humbleness and smile have become a mainstay for Jalen Green during his rookie season with the Rockets. Even though the adversity he experienced this season, dealing with an injury that kept him out multiple games, or the mini-shooting slump he went through in late January. He never stopped smiling and remained confident that he would overcome the issues that plagued him.

That attitude, and of course, his athletic ability, has general manager Rafael Stone and head coach Stephen Silas excited about the future.

“He can be a very good basketball player for sure,” said coach Silas about Green in his exit interview with the media. “He will get stronger and more experienced. He will get better than he was this year, so that adds up to being a very good basketball player.”

Photo Credit- Houston Rockets

Most fans and teams around the NBA got an intense glimpse of what Green can become if he stays on the course he showed post-NBA All-Star break, particularly in March and April, where he averaged 22.6 points and 3.2 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game.

He also shot 48.4 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from the three-point range during that stretch. Those numbers were outstanding for that stretch and earned Green Western Conference Rookie of the Month, as announced on Monday by the NBA after Green had finished his exit interviews.

Green, 20, knows that he has the talent to play in the NBA and recognizes that his stretch of scoring 30-plus points in six out of the last seven games, including a career-high 41 points against the Atlanta Hawks in the final game of the season was something he can take into the offseason. Yet, his unselfishness and his yearning for team success will drive him to work harder in the offseason.

“I think we got a lot better,” said Green about the Rockets team towards the end of the season. “You seen where our heart was at and how we approached every game these last seven or eight games.”

As the Rockets rookie class that consists of Green, Aleren Sengun, Usman Garuba, and Josh Christopher graduates to second-year veterans next season, one player from that group had already removed the “rookie” label from his mindset at the start of the 2021-22 NBA season.

“I really didn’t look at myself as a rookie, I felt like me going to the G League put me in the sophomore class,” said Green with a smile.

Photo Credit- Houston Astros

As one labeled as a very hard worker by the Rockets coaching staff, the second overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft has one personal award that would solidify his first season in the NBA. Green expressed how satisfying it would be to be selected as a member of the 2021-22 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

“It would mean a lot,” Green said about the honor. “That would make me very happy and show that the work has been working and how much I have improved from the beginning (of the season) to the end.”

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