ESPN places Jalen Green well below other top 2021 Rookies

Jalen Green is Houston’s only representative on ESPN’s NBA player rankings list for the 2022-23 season, but the young Rockets guard came in below many of his second-year peers.

For the exercise, ESPN’s NBArank panel was composed of over 200 reporters, editors, producers, and analysts. Each person was asked to rank players based on their predicted contributions — quality and quantity — for the 2022-23 season only.

Green came in at No. 62 on the list, well below the other top-four picks from the first round of Green’s 2021 draft class. Detroit’s Cade Cunningham, Cleveland’s Evan Mobley, and Toronto’s Scottie Barnes came in at No. 35, no. 36, and No. 39, respectively. All were members of the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team for the 2021-22 season.

When polling actual NBA executives, as opposed to media members, Green finished tied with Cunningham last week in a ranking of players to build around who are under 25 years old.

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon had kind words for Green in his analysis:

Green has the potential to compete for scoring titles, as he displayed down the stretch of his rookie season. He averaged 28.1 points on .486/.427/.773 shooting splits in his last nine games of 2021-22, scoring 30-plus points in seven of the last eight, including a 41-point finale. He’s an explosive leaper who should be a better finisher after a summer in the weight room.

Green did take a bit longer to reach his peak form as a rookie than Cunningham, Barnes, and Mobley, which explains why they had superior first-team vote totals from media members in the spring. But the ESPN exercise is about projecting for the coming season, rather than grading the previous one. Thus, it suggests that some Voters either didn’t notice Green’s historic Rookie scoring binge late in the season or are perhaps skeptical based on the smaller sample size.

With training camp for Green and the Rockets starting next Tuesday, Sept. 27, these types of rankings can perhaps be used as motivational fuel for the 20-year-old as he enters his second NBA season.

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