Scouts and teams know a fair amount about Jalen Green, at least compared to the rest of his draft class.
In a season of reduced games and limited access to practices, Green — along with other likely top-five pick Jonathan Kuminga — joined the G-League Ignite, playing in the G-League bubble. What that gave NBA front offices was a chance not only to see Green up close in practices and games, but also to see how he looked going against professionals, other recently-drafted and fringe NBA players fighting to get noticed and make the jump to the league. Green didn’t get to go out and show off against some overwhelmed college kid; he was going against men playing for their next paycheck.
Green is going to go top five in this draft, although where depends on who you ask. Green told Farbod Esnaashari of Bleacher Report he thinks he should go No. 1.
“I didn’t really start paying attention to it until after the bubble,” Green said. “I just felt like I should be No. 1 because I work harder than a lot of the dudes in my class. That’s the only reason. It’s not something that could have been or should have been; it’s just because I work harder.”
Green, a 6’5″ wing who knows how to get buckets, averaged 17.9 points a game and shot 36.5% from 3 in 15 G-League games. He had 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting, plus seven assists in the Ignite’s one playoff game.
Jalen Green said the G-League experience helped prepare him for the NBA.
“I learned a lot, I learned how to be a pro early. I was put in a pro setting. Improved my pro habits on and off the court. I feel I just got overall better. The young guys that were there got overall better too. It was just a great experience overall.”
What did he learn?
“On the court, knowing where to be, knowing the spots, knowing what to say, offense. Off the court, how to handle your money, how to balance your schedule, and how to grow up and be on your own because you’re in a bubble for eight months.”
Virtually every draft board has Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham going No. 1, but after that things are up in the air. Green, Kuminga, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs, and USC’s Evan Mobley are likely the next four, but in what order remains to be seen.
What Green has going for him is he showed how hard he was willing to work, how much he wanted to watch film and learn while playing under former NBA coach and player Brian Shaw in the G-League.
“I think I learned a lot from B-Shaw. We were playing in the triangle offense, so that was an offense with a lot of vets put in. So that was cool learning that. I just got to pick his brain a lot about Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird and Shaq. We watched a lot of film. B-Shaw helped me a lot.”
What team selects Jalen Green on July 29, the night of the NBA Draft, remains to be seen. Whoever gets him not only picks up a talented player, but one who has put in the work.