After Failed James Harden and Kyrie Irving Pursuits, 21YO NBA Star Remains Optimistic With Newest Rockets “Leader”

Published 10/21/2023, 2:41 PM EDT

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When James Harden and Kyrie Irving paired up in the Nets, the NBA world was in disbelief. Two of the best ball handlers and scoring wizards joined forces. However, their pairing alongside Kevin Durant proved to be a failure. Injuries, off-court issues, and much more impacted what could have been a title-winning combination. So, the three decided to go separate ways. Irving is with the Mavs right now, Durant with the Suns, and Harden is in an uncomfortable situation with the 76ers. Considering how disgruntled they were, rumors flood with multiple suitors.

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The Rockets emerged as a contender for both Harden and Irving. But then, they choose to invest in a younger guard. Although he is yet to even get close to the level of these two athletes, he has contributed to various wins. In this wake, a budding star backs his teammate.

Not having James Harden doesn’t matter for young Guard

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21-year-old Jalen Green will be up for another big season. His abilities as both a dunker and long-range bomber have earned him immense repute. He has become a dependable 20+ points scorer. He is still a streaky shooter and his cold spells have, at times, hurt his squad. However, for someone who is in their early 20s, the signs are encouraging.

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He played with Kevin Porter Jr, who was an excellent fit but didn’t have the leadership and experience of the team’s new Point Guard; Fred VanVleet. He signed a three-year $130 million deal with the Rockets in the offseason. Green sat down with NBA insider Shams Charania and discussed how he feels about his new teammate. Charania asked him after missing out on Harden and Irving, why does he feel VanVleet is the best fit?

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The Shooting Guard replied, “He is a really good leader. Um, you know, his story is pretty crazy. G-League championship. He has been in the environment of winning basketball. He did it before. Point Guard in that environment. You got to have leadership so you can be a Point Guard”.

Lauding his mentorship, he continued, ”I think his fit is best. Him coming in, just teaching us and mentoring us.”

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What is the ceiling of the duo for this season?

These comments by Green suggest that the Rockets were in desperate need of leadership. Now, having Van Vleet, Brooks, and Green ensures leadership on both ends of the floor. This will help Green get more disciplined on both ends. When a veteran player calls you out for mistakes, it has a tremendous impact. Having coach Ime Udoka will also help the young Guard, considering his experiences with the Celtics. 

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How many games will the team win? They still are a work in progress, but the moves they made indicate that they are serious about winning. Will coach Udoka fuel the rise of a new Playoff threat in the West?

Watch This Story: Staring Down the Barrel of $1.5 Million Blow, James Harden’s “Unexcused Absence” Is “Only the Beginning” in 76ers Drama, per Veteran Analyst

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Written by:

Shubham Singh

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Shubham is an NBA Writer at Essentially Sports. He became a fan of the NBA in late 2000s and his interest skyrocketed after Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks upset the Miami Heat in Six Games during 2011 NBA Finals. He loves looking into playing styles of different players and teams while also trying to analyse what circumstances shape a typical NBA game.
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Edited by:

Saumya Khanduja

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