Houston Rockets trade value rankings 

N.B. Lindberg
Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets
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Houston Rockets trade value rankings #3-2: Alperen Sengun &Jabari Smith Jr.

Alperen Sengun finished third in the Rockets' trade value rankings with a score of 2.4. In terms of current production, Sengun is the best young Rocket and is already a starting-caliber player (2). He leads the team in a host of advanced metrics, and the eye test confirms that when the offense runs through him, good things happen. His defense is still suspect, but his offensive impact is strong enough that he’s still worth featuring. 

Where Sengun falls a little short is in potential production (2.5). I personally love his game, but I think he’ll fall just short of being an All-Star caliber player. There’s a chance his offense is so good that it makes up for his poor defense, but centers have a very high defensive bar to hurdle, and projecting Sengun to have near All-NBA level impact on offense is too rich for my liking. I think he’ll max out as a player with All-Star-looking offense numbers, but his lack of defensive impact will keep him out of the conversation.  

Sengun’s contract is a good contract, and there’s a strong chance it becomes excellent right before he’s extension eligible. A starting caliber center that makes a significant impact on offense for $3.3 million with two team options is something every team would like to have. 

The two easiest ways for Sengun to move up this list are to become a credible jump shooter or become an average defender. His post-scoring is excellent, and his passing creativity is absurd, but the lack of a jumper could prevent him from becoming a true offensive hub. Defensively, he’ll need to become a monster on the defensive glass, rack up steals, and use proactive positioning to prevent rim opportunities because he’ll never be a true rim protector. 

Jabari Smith Jr. has had an up-and-down rookie season, but I’ve seen enough to believe his trade value around the league is incredibly high (2.6). For current production, I gave him a 1.5 as a player between a rotation piece and a starter. While his shooting efficiency has been poor, I think a lot of that has to do with playing on a flawed team, and his rebounding and defense have been quite strong. 

As a rookie, potential production is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. I believe Smith’s potential production is between an All-Star and All-NBA level player (3.5). 6’10 wings, who can also provide rim protection, are the key to modern NBA defenses, and there’s a good chance he’ll pair that with elite floor spacing. Smith will likely be one of those players who has near All-NBA level impact without having the traditional statistical profile. 

Smith’s contract is between good and excellent (4.5) for two key reasons. First, he has three more years on the deal, and two of them are team options. Second, he’ll make between $9 and $12.5 million over the next three seasons. $10 million contracts are the connective glue that make trades work and make his current contract not just good value but highly tradable. 

I’m a big believer in Smith’s long-term impact towards winning. I’ll admit that his lack of a handle will make it difficult for him to be a superstar, but he’ll likely settle in as an awesome second fiddle next to a true ball-dominant player. His defensive versatility is so great that even if he’s only ever an average floor spacer, he’ll be an incredibly valuable player.