Jalen Green eager for next step as Rockets star
Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green dribbles during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Monday, March 28, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

It’s hard to get the Rockets’ brass to put a tangible expectation on the 2022-23 season and even second-year star guard Jalen Green is a little evasive when it comes to predicting a number of games or if the playoffs are realistic.

But Green is firm when it comes to seeing an improved team on the floor this season.

“This year the Houston Rockets will be better than last year,” Green said during the team’s recent Media Day to officially kick off the season. “If we buy in and stay, I think the team will take off.”

Green will play a big part in the new look, rebuilding the Rockets’ ability to take off this season. The No .2 overall pick from last season’s NBA Draft has superstar written all over him.

It’s just a matter of time when Green will be ready to deliver on all of his promises and NBA star ability. He and the rest of the Rockets’ young core, which includes center Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, and Kevin Porter Jr., took their lumps last season with the goal that it will pay in the years to come in what is a massive rebuild.

Green isn’t a big talker, but he is clear on his expectations in Year 2.

“Carrying myself and my team to more wins than last year,” said Green, who was part of the Rockets youth movement that went 20-62 last season. “Hopefully, I can get All-Star.”

Green, a product of the G-League, came in last season amid high expectations. He struggled initially through inconsistent play on both ends of the court, as most rookies do.

But toward the end of the season, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard began to show glimpses of being the explosive and versatile star the franchise needs. In 67 appearances last season, Green averaged 17.3 points, 2.6 assists, and 3.4 rebounds while logging 31.9 minutes per night.

Rockets coach Stephen Silas liked what he saw toward the end of the season and he watched it carry over during the offseason when Green and most of the team stuck around to work out at the team’s practice facility.

“The experience Jalen had as far as starting the season off slow and improving to the point where he was really really good toward the end of the season,” said Silas, whose team opened training camp this week in Lake Charles.

“He has gotten stronger [during the offseason] and kept working at his game and we will see a second-year version of him being him and it’s not the best that he will be, but it will be better than he was at the beginning of last season.”

Green spent the offseason on catch and shoot, ball handling, pick-and-roll, and getting to his spots. He also bulked up, adding about 10 more pounds to his frame with a better diet and hitting the weight room.

“I think it’s going to make a huge difference for me this year,” Green said of going from the low 170s to 182 pounds this season.

Another major part of Green’s growth will be his veteran status and role as a leader on the floor, especially for the new arrivals Jabari Smith, TyTy Washington and Tari Eason. Green seems eager to take on that role.

“I feel good about adapting and being a leader for the young guys coming in if they have questions just [knowing] I went through what they are going to go through,” Green said. “It’s kind of like being a big brother in a way that they can lean on just because I was going through a lot last year. There are highs and lows but I will tell them to just keep that even keel.”