Chauncey Billups still sees potential star in Houston’s Jalen Green

When compared to his first two NBA seasons, 2023-24 is a statistical step back for third-year Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green.

After posting a team-high 22.1 points per game last season on 41.7% shooting and 33.8% from 3-point range, those numbers have dipped to 17.1 points on 39.7% shooting (32.0% on 3-pointers) this year.

But there are some extenuating circumstances. For starters, there’s a new coach in Ime Udoka and a brand-new system.

Beyond that, in Green’s first two NBA seasons, the Rockets went 20-62 and 22-60, respectively. This year, Houston (20-22) has become competitive. With that jump comes higher expectations and a new reality, such as Udoka occasionally keeping Green out of his closing lineup — should the 21-year-old be having a bad night.

The Portland Trail Blazers, who faced Green and the Rockets on Wednesday night in Houston, have their own example of a young shooting guard who didn’t break out until his fourth NBA season.

Over his first three NBA seasons, Anfernee Simons averaged 7.5 points per game. Starting with season four, however, Simons has bumped that to an average of approximately 20 points per game on strong efficiency (44.1% FG, 38.9% on 3-pointers), and he’s averaging a career-high 22.5 points and 4.8 assists this season.

Chauncey Billups, a former guard who didn’t fully hit his stride until landing on his fifth NBA team in Detroit, now coaches Simons with the Trail Blazers. In pregame comments to reporters from Toyota Center, Billups made it clear that he’s still a believer in what Green can do with the Rockets, and he still sees a path to stardom for the No. 2 overall pick from the first round of the 2021 NBA draft.

Here’s what Billups told Rockets Wire of Green’s future:

I just think that Jalen kid is uber-talented. He’s uber-aggressive out there.

It takes guards a lot more time. I would say point guards, more, but even in his position, as a two guard. Because when you get to this league, for the first time, you’re playing against players that are better than you. You’ve been the best on your team since you’ve been playing, but then you get here, and you’ve got to find a way to try to do that again. But you’ve also got teammates that are trying to prove things, too. So, it can’t just be about you. You’ve got to learn how to sacrifice, and learn how to be in that space.

In this case, he went through a change with the coach, and now he’s learning that system and learning how to play with some of those veterans. I think he’s gonna be just fine. He’s definitely got a chance to be a star.

With Green and Simons facing off against each other, tipoff between the Rockets and Trail Blazers (12-31) is at 7:00 p.m. Central.

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire