The Houston Rockets are chasing the Golden State Warriors for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference and it is third-year guard Jalen Green leading the charge.

The 22-year-old was having an up-and-down campaign leading up to this year’s All-Star break, but the midseason pause in the schedule seemed to do him good. He has played the best basketball of his career over the 15 games since, averaging 23.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 0.9 steals per game.

Over this stretch, Green has scored over 34 points on four occasions and has yet to score less than 10 points in any of these games.

Earlier this week, he tied his career-high with 42 points to lead Houston to a 137-114 win over the Washington Wizards. He showcased his all-around scoring prowess throughout the contest as he had a healthy balance of three-pointers, of which he hit seven of 13 attempts, and points in the paint–including a highlight reel-worthy lay-up where he flexed his jaw-dropping athleticism.

Green’s stellar play has fueled the Rockets to a seven-game winning streak, tied for the longest in the league at the moment with the East-leading Boston Celtics, which has pushed them back into the hunt for the play-in tournament. Houston trails the Warriors by just 2.5 games with 13 contests remaining on their schedule.


While Green did have a similarly strong second half of the season last year, the situation this time around is quite different. Unlike the previous campaign where they were lottery-bound and playing for nothing, the Rockets are battling for a play-in spot and the 6’4 guard is leading a team that was reinforced with veterans during the offseason.

The confidence that he has displayed over this past month is encouraging, not only in this charge to the play-in tournament, but for Houston’s long-term future as well. He, along with 20-year-old Jabari Smith Jr. and rookie Ausar Thompson, are beginning to look like the type of foundational trio that could eventually bring this team back into title contention.

These next few weeks will prove to be a valuable learning experience for the Rockets team, regardless of the outcome of their bid to make the play-in tournament. The pressure that comes with trying to win on a nightly basis is only going to help them grow and it will be interesting to see how their young core, particularly Green, reacts to this situation.

When he was drafted second overall in the NBA Draft, the expectations that were put upon him were sky-high. He may not have lived up to them so far, but his recent play suggests that it is still too early to count him out. The mix of talent and athleticism that he possesses as a shooting guard is a proven recipe for success and it should only be a matter of time until he puts it all together to become a perennial NBA All-Star.