2 Rockets that earned untouchable status
With the Rockets having landed the Washington Wizards' 2023 first-round draft pick in the Russell Westbrook-John Wall swap, GM Rafael Stone opted to trade up in the first round and select Alperen Sengun out of Turkey. Sengun had been the MVP of the Turkish League, averaging 19 points and 9 rebounds and was still just a teenager.
Although the 6'9 center started his NBA career as a Sixth Man for the Rockets in 2021-22, he still posted averages of 9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists, leaving fans excited about his potential as a starter for the Rockets. However, Sengun's 2022-23 season kicked off in his familiar reserve role, as former Rockets coach Stephen Silas opted to start Bruno Fernando as the team's center at the onset of the season.
After three games off the bench, in which Sengun averaged 15.7 points, 10 rebounds, while shooting 58 percent from the field, Sengun was catapulted into the Rockets' starting lineup and he never looked back.
Sengun displayed a knack for making the flashiest passes, drawing comparisons to Magic Johnson by stars around the league. Sengun's ability to make plays for himself and others has led to frequent comparisons to two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, which certainly excites the Rockets' front office.
Granted, Sengun isn't flawless, as he has work to do on the defensive end of the floor.
Yeah, he's been that bad on that end. And he's also struggled to refrain from fouling throughout his NBA career, although he made improvements in that category in his second year.
This has led to concern from many within the Rockets' fanbase and could be the reason many don't view Sengun as an "untouchable" asset for the Rockets. But with 29 double-doubles (20th) and the 11th-most triple-doubles in 2022-23, in addition to a statline of 14.8 points, 9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists, the Rockets center has likely ingrained himself into the Rockets' young core, in spite of the defensive limitations.