Alperen Şengün made the Houston Rockets look like geniuses for moving up in the draft and selecting him with the 16th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. In hindsight, the precocious Turk slipping out of the lottery looks even more ridiculous than it did in the moment.
Şengün wasn’t some unheard of international prospect that only the biggest draft junkies knew of. He was a bonafide stud in the Turkish League, widely considered the third-best domestic league behind the NBA and Spain’s Liga ACB.
At only 18-years-old, Şengün won the Turkish league MVP while averaging 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. Those per game numbers are even more impressive considering he averaged 28.3 minutes per game.
On a rate basis, Şengün lived up to his pre-draft pedigree, but a lack of minutes prevented him from challenging for rookie of the year. Far more important than being in the conversation for meaningless rookie awards, he established himself as a player who should have a productive 15-year NBA career. This is Alperen Şengün’s season in review.
Alperen Şengün’s Per Minute Excellence
Alperen Şengün’s full-season line of 9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game doesn’t jump off the page. However, he accomplished the feat as a 19-year-old in only 20.7 minutes a night.
It’s critical to remember that Şengün won’t turn 20 until July 25th. He more than held his own in the NBA at the same age that Evan Mobley and Cade Cunningham were moving up draft boards against amateurs in the NCAA.
Taking a look at his per-36 minute numbers explains all of the optimism surrounding his future. Per-36 minutes, Şengün averaged 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. The only players that equaled or eclipsed those marks on a per-game basis were Nikola Jokic, Domantas Sabonis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Julius Randle.
Şengün would have been hardpressed to reach those benchmarks over the course of a full season, but his combination of scoring, passing, and rebounding has the potential to make him an incredibly unique player.