Jalen Green returning to efficient form as Rockets grow more competitive

For Jalen Green and the Rockets, the low point of the 2022-23 NBA season to date was clearly an 0-4 road trip in late October and early November with stops in Utah, Portland, Phoenix, and Los Angeles (Clippers). Houston went winless in those games and was largely uncompetitive in three of them, and Green was a big reason why.

Green, a second-year shooting guard who is a foundational piece in Houston’s rebuilding movement, averaged just 14.0 points and 1.8 assists per game during that road trip on 25.7% shooting, 22.6% on 3-pointers, and 64.7% on free throws.

Since then, however, the 20-year-old drafted at No. 2 overall in the 2021 first round has turned things around in a big way.

Over his last four outings, starting with a Nov. 2 home rematch versus those same Clippers in Houston, Green has averaged 24.5 points and 3.5 assists per game on strong efficiency marks of 53.8% shooting, 38.9% from 3-point range, and 73.7% on free throws.

To no surprise, that has boosted the team’s fortunes, as evidenced by Monday’s win in Orlando (where Green scored a game-high 34 points on 66.7% FG) and two other highly competitive losses to the Clippers and Raptors. In three of those four contests, Green has shot better than 50% from the field, and those are the games in which Houston has either won or had a chance to win late.

In Toronto, Green had a season-high 6 assists and a season-low 14 shot attempts, due largely to taking what the defense gave him.

“I already knew going in, just from playing them before, they are going to run us off the 3-point line, send double teams,” Green said in Toronto, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I was just trying to make the right read, get guys involved, make the right pass.”

“That’s a mature game from him to have 6 assists after having a 34-point game,” head coach Stephen Silas told Feigen.

For the 2022-23 regular season as a whole, Green’s efficiency is still somewhat lagging, but he’s up to a much more respectable 20.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game on 41.4% shooting and 36.2% on 3-pointers. Through 12 games, his true shooting (TS) percentage of 52.7% is down slightly from 54.7% as a rookie, while his player efficiency rating (PER) has risen from 12.5 to 13.5.

Besides making more shots and developing more as a shot creator and playmaker, another potential area of growth is in drawing fouls. Despite having 17.9 shot attempts per game, Green averages only 4.2 free-throw attempts, which is a low number when considering his elite athleticism and propensity for creating off the dribble. If he improves there, be it through better technique and/or gradually getting a friendlier whistle from officials over time, that could go a long way toward boosting his efficiency metrics (like TS and PER).

Green and the Rockets (2-10) will look to build on their recent uptick in form when their current four-game road trip concludes on Saturday night in New Orleans. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. Central.

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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire