The Houston Rockets have had a myriad of problems this year. They’ve had incredible ups and incredible downs. However, Alperen Sengun may be the golden ticket to contention, and the Rockets need to ride the Turkish center’s unfathomable skills to the promised land.
Drafted 16th overall in the 2021 NBA draft by the Thunder, Alperen Sengun was quickly traded to the Houston Rockets for two future first-rounder picks. Houston absolutely loved the potential of the former Turkish Super League MVP and negotiated with the Thunder to select Sengun for them. A little more than a quarter into the season, it looks to have been the right move.
Sengun isn’t what the general NBA fan would look for in a big man. He doesn't appear athletic. Although he has shot well from distance this season on a very limited sample, he also isn’t a sharpshooter. Sengun, in the same vein as the multi-faceted Luis Scola, is one of the most skilled big men the Rockets have ever seen.
Sengun's post-game is unrivaled among young big men in the league. Whether he’s fading away, hop stepping towards the basket past his defender, or finding a wide-open shooter on the wing, Alperen is an absolute menace in the post.
At the beginning of the season, Sengun's playing time was hard to come by. His skill set works best when he is the lone big and it seems Houston has noticed this. To get the most out of Sengun they have started running offense almost exclusively through him while he’s in the game, and it’s paid off too. Sengun is in all of the Rockets’ top-five lineups in net points per 100 possessions for the season. Simply put, he is an absolute difference maker when he is on the floor.
Sengun was a key cog in the Rockets 7 game win streak anchoring the bench unit. He’s unorthodox, he’s at times out of place defensively (something that changes with experience), but he’s also an absolute weapon. Rockets fans should be excited to see the growth and development of the Turkish phenom because he has what it takes to lift the franchise back to the top.