The Alperen Sengun superstar question
Alperen Sengun already has superstar company
Alperen Sengun already has some elite statistical company. This is the list of players averaging at least 15 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game; Domatas Sabonis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Nikola Vucevic, Julius Randle, Bam Adebayo, Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, Alperen Sengun, and LeBron James. Six of the ten listed players are almost assuredly going to be on an All-NBA team, and Vucevic, Randle, and Adebayo are all potential or former All-Stars, and then there is Sengun.
Obviously, Sengun is not at the level of Giannis, Jokic, Embiid, Luka, LeBron, and Sabonis, but he is also 20. Simply being as good as present-day Nikola Vucevic is tremendous for a second-year player. Another encouraging factor is that he already has an outlier trait at the NBA level.
Sengun is already elite on the offensive glass
Sengun is a tremendous offensive rebounder. His 3.3 offensive rebounds rank sixth in the league and his 12.8% offensive rebounding percentage ranks ninth. While being a great offensive rebounder doesn’t make you a star, having an elite skill this young is a rarity, especially when you look at the totality of his game.
The offensive rebounding leaderboard is populated by behemoth centers that offer little more than their rebounding and screening on offense. Sengun doesn’t fit that mold at all. His assist percentage stands at 21.1% for the season and is at 29.4% over the past 19 games. The list of players with an offensive rebounding percentage equal to or greater than 10% and an assist percentage equal to or greater than 20% starts with Domatas Sabonis and ends with Alperen Sengun.
Simply put, Sengun is already an impact NBA player. He’s not quite yet an All-Star, but if the Rockets continue to feature him more heavily, as they have done recently, he’ll likely post All-Star quality numbers in the second half of the season. For Sengun to be a superstar, he likely won’t have to beat out the likes of Embiid, Giannis, or Jokic, but rather, he’ll have to beat out his peers.
Sengun is already one of the best young players in the league
So while Sengun already looks good compared to all NBA players, when you compare Sengun to players of a similar age, he really starts to stand out as one of the game’s brightest young stars. Of players age 21 and younger, he is seventh in points per game at 15.5 but comically laps the field in effective field goal percentage (eFG%). His eFG% of 58.5% is only approached by Evan Mobley’s 56.6%, who is a year older and gets to play next to two All-Star guards, Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell.
No player, save for Evan Mobley, has Sengun’s level of efficiency, age, and scoring. The scoring potential that Sengun possesses is immense. We’re looking at a player who should be a 20-point-per-game scorer on well above league-average efficiency well before their age-25 season. The fact that he also already possesses impact playmaking and potential for even more suggests he may be a true number-one offensive option at his peak.
Even when we expand the age brackets farther out, Alperen Sengun still stands out. For players in their age 24 and younger season, he is 11th in box plus/minus and 10th in offensive box plus-minus. The nine players ahead of him; Luka Doncic, Tyrese Haliburton, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, Zion Williamson, Trae Young, Darius Garland, and Devin Vassell, are all either bonafide superstars or in the conversation (The lone exception being Vassell, but he should be getting more shine than he is).
As an offensive prospect, Alperen Sengun might have the brightest future of any frontcourt player currently in the league outside of Zion Williamson. That’s not hyperbole. It’s suggested by the data. Paolo Banchero and eventually Victor Wembanyama will likely have something to say about that, but they’re both going to have to play catch up. I’ve waxed poetically about Sengun’s strengths, but to be a superstar, your flaws, or lack thereof, are just as important.