Houston Rockets Season Review: Alperen Şengün

Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets
Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets / Alex Bierens de Haan/GettyImages
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New Orleans Pelicans v Houston Rockets, Alperen Sengun
New Orleans Pelicans v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Where Alperen Şengün Struggled

As promising as Şengün was as a rookie, there are clearly flaws in his game. Starting on offense, he proved to be an abysmal 3-point shooter. On 1.6 attempts a game, he only hit 24.8% of his 3-pointers. Not being a knockdown shooter beyond the arc isn’t a death sentence, but it does limit his offensive upside. 

As great of a passer as Şengün is, he is also incredibly reckless. For every moment of brilliance, there was also a pass into the stands or to an opponent. His 59 bad pass turnovers were the 8th most for a center, and he did it in at least 500 fewer minutes than those above him. Passing creativity needs to be balanced with pragmatism, and Şengün still lags in that department. 

The final concern with Şengün’s offensive profile is his penchant for committing offensive fouls. On the season, he committed 28 offensive fouls, which was the 16th most in the league. The only players who committed more in a similar amount of minutes were Dwayne Dedmond and JaVale McGee, two backup centers. Racking up offensive fouls isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most of the players that lead in the category are good players, but they’re still unforced turnovers. 

Şengün’s defense hasn’t been mentioned yet because it’s difficult to know if he’s good, bad, or average on that end. There are legitimate concerns over his defensive ability that stem from his lack of height and length. Standing at only 6’9 with a 7’0.5 wingspan, he has the physical dimensions of a modern NBA power forward. His skeletal limitations, combined with the lack of elite vertical burst and footspeed, indicate real physical limitations to his defensive upside. 

The good news is that Şengün overcame those limitations to rack up an impressive number of steals and blocks. If he had played enough minutes to qualify, his 1.9% steal rate would be a top-30 mark and his 4.1% block rate would have him tied with Clint Capela at 11th. The only qualified player to equal or eclipse both marks was Robert Covington. 

While the boxscore defensive metrics shone brightly on Şengün, it came at a cost. He averaged 3 fouls per game and 5.2 fouls per 36-minutes. His per 36-minute mark was the fifth-worst in the league. 

Another notch against Şengün’s defense is how pitiful the Rockets were with him on the court. Per 100 possessions, the Rockets gave up 119.5 points with Şengün on the court. Opponent 3-point shooting was nearly identical with him on or off, but opponents shot 59.1% on 2-pointers with him on the court compared to 55.8% when he sat. 

Şengün’s defense remains a mystery. By some measures he’s great, by others he’s a liability. Due to the fact that collecting defensive box score stats is not always indicative of elite defensive impact, I’d lean towards his defense having been a problem.