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

N.B. Lindberg
Toronto Raptors v Houston Rockets
Toronto Raptors v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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The Rockets offense is built for perimeter, not post success

The Rockets are trying to build their offense through the backcourt duo of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. A strong rim-running center opens up driving lanes and opportunities in the midrange for guards. In a Stephen Silas offense, the center’s job is to create space for guards either through shooting or screening. This play shows one of the reasons why Sengun isn’t a fit for Silas’ preferred offensive system.

Christian Wood sets an admittedly pathetic screen for Jalen Green, but it does just enough to force Isaac Okoro to play catch-up. Green steps back and drives hard to the rim, leaving Okoro in the dust, where he gets fouled at the rim. The key to this play is Wood’s threat as a shooter. 

Watch how Jarrett Allen, an All-Star in 2021-22, stays tight to Wood. Once he realizes that Okoro is toast, it’s already too late as he helplessly watches Green get to the rim. If Sengun was setting the screen, Allen is in the exact spot Green takes to get past Okoro. 

Fernando isn’t a stretch five like Wood was, but his gravity as a roller is far better than Sengun’s. This clip shows just how important a strong roll man can be for an offense.

Fernando sets a screen and immediately bursts towards the basket. The Raptors do a solid job defending it, although Green had a brief window to sling a lob into Fernando. However, watch how far Fernando draws the center into the paint. His lob gravity creates acres of space in the midrange for Green to run into, giving him a better chance to finish at the rim. 

Sengun is a far more talented offensive player than Fernando, but his skillset doesn’t mesh with what Silas wants out of his centers. 

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