Bruno Fernando over Alperen Sengun? Why the winner of the Rockets center battle isn’t a surprise

Toronto Raptors v Houston Rockets
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All offseason, it looked as if the Houston Rockets were clearing the runway for Alperen Sengun to be the starting center in the 2022-23 season. They traded Christian Wood to the Dallas Mavericks, leaving Sengun, Usman Garuba, and NBA journeyman Boban Marjanovic as the only centers on the roster. 

However, the Rockets decided to bring back Bruno Fernando, who impressed in limited action last season, to battle for a job. His work in the preseason was impressive enough that the Rockets signed him to a four-year, $10.9 million deal, and now it appears it was enough to claim the starting center position. 

How Alperen Sengun get beat out by Bruno Fernando

How is it that an NBA journeyman beat out one of the most exciting young centers in the league? The answer is relatively simple, Bruno Fernando fits with what the Rockets do on offense far better than Alperen Sengun. 

Stephen Silas landed the Rockets’ head coaching job with a reputation as an offensive guru. He had helped develop Stephen Curry and was fresh off of a season as an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks when they had one of the most efficient offenses in league history built around Luka Doncic. 

Silas’ offensive vision is to play a spread-out pick-and-roll attack, which is what makes Sengun such a difficult player to integrate. Sengun is not a 3-point threat and is not a particularly good rim runner. He has flashed elite offensive traits, but they all come with the ball in his hands in the post and high-post. 

The passing vision that Sengun possesses is frankly mind-blowing, but notice how in most of the highlights, he has the ball in the post and cutters flying around. Sengun is at his best when he is the focal point of the offense. That’s both a great thing and a bad thing. It’s great because to be the focal point you need to be exceptional, but bad when you’re not the best offensive player on the court.