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Jalen Green is one of the most intriguing players in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft and his path to the NBA has been unconventional. Green finished his high school career at Prolific Prep in Napa, California, as one of the best players in his class, but Green decided to forego the traditional route of playing in the NCAA, and instead, he signed a one-year, $500,000 contract with the NBA G League Ignite.
At 6 feet 6 inches, Green possesses the potential and all the key intangibles to be an elite shooting guard in the league from day one. With jaw-dropping athleticism, the unique scoring ability to hit tough shots off the dribble from mid-range and the three, and a bag of crafty finishes around the rim, Green is expected to be selected somewhere in the top three picks in the 2021 NBA draft.
Worthy of the high praise
While Green had a stellar high school career, what might be even more impressive has been his ability to showcase his talent while playing against grown men in the G League. At just 19 years old, Green averaged 17.9 points per game on 46 percent shooting from the field to go along with 1.5 steals per game as well.
Scouts, analysts, and of course, teammates, have incredibly high praise and expectations for Green, and it would be hardly a surprise to see a team like the Raptors make a move to trade up in the draft to secure picking Green if they can.
Leveraging the fourth pick
It wouldn’t be the first time the Raptors leveraged the fourth in the draft to get the player they really wanted on draft night. Back in 1998, the Raptors traded the fourth pick in Antawn Jamison for cash considerations and Vince Carter who was selected fifth.
It remains to be seen how this draft will play out, and while the Raptors are mostly in need of a big, it’s highly unlikely Evan Mobley will slip to the fourth pick. With Cade Cunningham and Mobley expected to go first and second overall, the Raptors selection will be directly influenced by the Cleveland Cavaliers who may even be looking at Jonathan Kuminga with the third pick. It would be extremely fortunate for the Raptors if Green does fall to them at fourth, and it’s an option they would likely regret passing up on.
The Raptors are expected to have several trade options and suitors with the number four pick, and if they do decide to trade down, they should look to get a quality big. But even if reports suggest the Warriors may be shopping James Wiseman, it’s hard to believe such a deal would bring as much upside as Green’s scoring ability would bring to the Raptors.
Fitting in with the Raptors
While the Raptors may be able to secure Gary Trent Jr. to a long-term deal this summer, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use Green’s elite scoring ability to add depth to their roster at the shooting guard position.
If Kyle Lowry does decide to leave in free agency this summer, Green has the potential to be a franchise-caliber player the Raptors can look to for the future.
Fred VanVleet would also be able to slide over to his more natural position as a point guard to accompany Green in the backcourt. Green and VanVleet would be a dynamic duo in the backcourt that would provide high-powered scoring but also be very active defensively.
Pair that with OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam in the frontcourt, while bringing Trent Jr. off the bench, and the Raptors are looking at a versatile group with much better scoring punch than what they had last season.