If the NBA playoffs have taught us anything it's the value of shot creators, bucket getters, and half-court scores. It's one thing to be able to fly out in transition and score in fast-paced regular season games, but when things get bogged down late in the playoffs these days the most important thing for any team is a player who can go get that bucket.
That's what Jalen Green is expected to be.
By all accounts, the 19-year-old projected top-three pick in the 2021 NBA Draft is the purest scorer in the draft. He's the kind of player who can break down a defense in the half-court and rise up to get clutch buckets. He's projected to be a 6-foot-6 Bradley Beal or Zach Lavine, the kind of player who can score 20 points on any given night.
"He can shoot the ball wherever you want it," said Green's G League Ignite teammate Daishen Nix. "He can catch the ball and shoot it. I drive and wherever he's at he just shoots it. He's just a consistent shooter, very good shooter, and he places defense too."
His 18.7 points per game, including his 30-point playoff performance, were the 10th most in the G League all while going up against grown men fighting for their NBA lives.
This is the kind of player the Toronto Raptors are looking for. The Raptors have almost everything else a franchise could possibly need to reach the NBA Finals. They have a star wing in Pascal Siakam who has shown he can be the second fiddle on a Finals team. They have a fringe all-star caliber guard in Fred VanVleet who can make an impact on both sides of the ball. And they have OG Anunoby, one of the NBA's best young 3-and-D prospects who continued to show significant growth last season. What they don't have is a superstar scorer who can the centerpiece of a winning offense, the type of player Green is projected to be.
"I've never seen anybody play the way he does," said Isaiah Todd, another of Green's G League teammates. "Jalen's a generational talent. He finishes around the rim like no other, him and Daishen Nix. But I feel like that athleticism at that size with his quickness, he can be a real problem in the league."
Unfortunately for the Raptors, it seems highly unlikely Green falls to No. 4. It would require the Houston Rockets selecting USC's Evan Mobley over Green, which is plausible, and then the Cleveland Cavaliers picking Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs, potentially to replace Collin Sexton who the Cavaliers are reportedly shopping, which seems unlikely.
If Toronto does see Green as its missing piece, it better be ready to make a move to go up and get him. Even if it costs some valuable future assets, prospects like Green don't come around all that often and the Raptors don't plan to be picking this high up in the draft anytime soon.