Jalen Green only worked out for two teams, the Pistons and Rockets, leading up to the 2021 NBA draft and was hoping to be the first prospect off the board on July 29. However, while he sought the honor of being the No. 1 pick, Green wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of beginning his NBA career in Michigan, he tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
“I wanted to be the No. 1 pick, but as for the location, I didn’t want to be in Detroit,” Green said. “I felt a lot more comfortable in Houston. It felt like a real homey environment.
“With Detroit, it felt like I was just going back to the G League bubble, and I just got out of the bubble. That’s pretty much what it was,” continued Green, who played for the G League Ignite at Walt Disney World last winter. “In the bubble, I didn’t really have anything to do but just stay in the gym. I didn’t have any time to get away for myself. The only time I had to get away for myself was in my apartment. That’s what it felt like in Detroit. I wouldn’t be stepping outside in Detroit. There are not many things you can do in Detroit like that. You’re going to stay in the gym and then go back to your apartment.”
Green, of course, was drafted by the Rockets with the No. 2 pick after the Pistons used the first overall selection to nab Cade Cunningham. If Green had been the Pistons’ pick, it’s probably safe to assume his comments to Haynes about Detroit would sound a little different.
By contrast, Cunningham had nothing but praise for the city of Detroit following his pre-draft visit with the Pistons, telling reporters that he appreciated Michiganders’ “underdog, go-get-what-you-want” mentality.
Green, clearly not concerned about endearing himself to Pistons fans, is out to prove the team made a mistake by passing on him. As Haynes relays, the Rockets rookie is looking to beat out Cunningham and the rest of the 2021 draft class to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award in 2021/22.
“I need it. I feel like I’m the best player in the class,” Green told Yahoo Sports. “I didn’t go No. 1, so I’m going to go get the Rookie of the Year.”