What we learned from the Houston Rockets' pre-season #3: Alperen Sengun is going to be a starter sooner rather than later
Jalen Green, deservedly, has all the hype for NBA Rookie of Year, but he’s not the only Rockets rookie that should garner awards buzz. Alperen Sengun spent the pre-season putting on an absolute clinic. He averaged 9.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 blocks in 18.5 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes that extrapolates to 19.1 points, 15.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.9 blocks.
Needless to say, Sengun was wildly productive on a per-minute basis but even those numbers sell him short. Of Sengun’s 7.8 rebounds per game, 3.2 were offensive rebounds. To illustrate just how impressive that haul is; last season, that figure would have been the seventh-best in the league and Sengun’s 6.2 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes in the pre-season would have been the best per-36 minute mark in the league.
Offensive rebounds are incredibly valuable. Not only do you usually get the ball near the basket, but they’re effectively a turnover. Sengun looks to already be an elite offensive rebounder, which could really give the Rockets a boost, seeing as they were one of the worst shooting teams in the league last season.
Sengun wasn’t just a beast on the offensive glass either, he got to the line constantly, showed impressive passing, and was a far better rim protector than advertised. There’s a real argument to be made that he was the Rockets’ best player in the pre-season. The Rockets already have Christian Wood and signed Daniel Theis this offseason, but Sengun showed that he’s a part of the Rockets’ present as much as he’s a part of their future. Stephen Silas won’t be able to keep him out of the starting rotation for long, which is why should be a starter sooner rather than later.