NBA Draft: Fil-Am Jalen Green picked No. 2 by Rockets; Pistons take Cade

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Jul 30 2021 08:34 AM | Updated as of Jul 30 2021 01:12 PM

NBA Draft: Fil-Am Jalen Green picked No. 2 by Rockets; Pistons take Cade 1
Jalen Green prior to the NBA Draft on Thursday. Brad Penner, USA Today Sports/Reuters

Jalen Green, an American basketball guard whose mother is Filipino, was chosen No. 2 overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2021 NBA Draft in New York on Thursday (US time). 

The Detroit Pistons, meanwhile, selected Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 overall choice.

The Pistons had been projected to pick Cunningham since winning the lottery last month.

Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists and was Big 12 Player of the Year during his lone college season with the Cowboys. He led the team in scoring, assists, steals (43) and 3-point baskets (62).

The Pistons went 20-52 last season -- the second-worst record in the NBA -- and missed the postseason for the 10th time in the past 12 campaigns. 

"Words can't even explain the emotions," Cunningham said on ABC of being the No. 1 overall pick. "I'm just so happy to be here and see what I can do on the next level."

It marked the first time Detroit has selected first since choosing Bob Lanier in 1970. Lanier was a seven-time All-Star during 9 1/2 seasons with the Pistons and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. 

Team Ignite coach Brian Shaw said there is a part of Green's approach to the game that reminds of him of Kobe Bryant.

"The guys that I've been around -- the Paul Georges, the Kobe Bryants, guys like that who were also the targets of the other team's best defensive players and their scouting report, they figured out a way to get it done," Shaw said. 

"I'm seeing that same kind of thing out of him, figuring it out when you're the target of the defense and their scouting report,"

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Chooks-to-Go National Basketball Training Center congratulated Green, an alumnus of the domestic youth basketball program, for being drafted.

“I have seen Jalen up close and watched this young man electrify the crowd with his exceptional level of play but more than that he endeared himself to so many people he interacted with,” NBTC program director Erik Altamirano said.

“A very humble person on and off the court, truly an inspiration to young basketball players.”

Green, who played in the NBTC finals in 2018 and 2019 for Fil-am Sports USA, holds the single-game scoring record in the tournament with 51 points.

Having impressed in his campaign for Team Ignite in the NBA G League, Green said in May that he had looked forward to some time off before taking the next steps in his path to the NBA.

Green and Team Ignite exited the G League bubble after falling to top-seeded Raptors 905, 127-102, in the first round of the playoffs last week.

Despite their early exit, it was still an impressive campaign for the 19-year-old Green, who averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game in the regular season. In his lone playoff game, Green put up a career-best 30 points along with seven assists and five rebounds.

Shaw believes Green exceeded expectations with his performances in the G League bubble, where he emerged as their leading scorer while growing as a defender and playmaker as the season progressed.

For Green, the experience was crucial to his development especially as he learned to deal with the pace and physicality of the game.

"The biggest thing I learned is to have that next shot, next play mentality," said Green, who traces his roots to the Philippines through his mother. 

— With a report from Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News


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