Why would the Rockets trade Alperen Sengun?
The problem with losing isn't the losses. The problem with losing are the solutions. And it is this exact predicament that the Houston Rockets find themselves in. When you’re arguably the worst team in the NBA, you’re not one quick fix away from even being okay, you’re many.
More problems lead to crazier solutions
The Rockets need help on offense, on defense, on the coaching staff, and probably on special teams too. To make matters worse, solving one problem doesn’t mean another can’t get worse. With so many holes to fill, it’s not uncommon to unexpectedly buy a ticket to crazy town, and there’s a crazy little rumor floating around the Rockets.
There are whispers that the Rockets could potentially look to trade Alperen Sengun this offseason in an effort to improve their roster. While trading your best player sounds crazy, the Rockets have done just that in two consecutive seasons. Still, why would the Rockets entertain trading their best young player for a more established star?
The two reasons why Alperen Sengun could end up on the trade block
There seem to be two reasons that are somewhat related as to why Alperen Sengun could be trade bait this offseason. The first is Sengun’s ultimate ceiling. As an offense-first center, there isn’t much sense in utilizing Sengun as a tertiary option on offense. The lower you are in the offensive pecking order, the greater your defensive impact needs to be, and Sengun is unlikely to be a strong enough defender to warrant being a third or fourth option on offense.
If the Rockets don’t think Sengun can be the hub of a top-five offense, then they may believe his ceiling isn’t high enough to build around. It’s awfully early to make such a distinction, but there is some logic in moving on earlier rather than later.
The second reason is fit. Some players are accommodating, while others need to be accommodated, and Alperen Sengun is a player who needs accommodations. Center is the most important defensive position, but Sengun cannot fully handle its duties. Any roster with Sengun needs to have strong perimeter defenders that can also provide interior support. Needless to say, building a sturdy defense around Sengun will almost certainly be a challenge.
The other side of the ball also presents challenges. While Sengun is an exceptional offensive player, he doesn’t excel without the ball. He isn’t a dangerous lob threat, and he isn’t much of a floor spacer. With how the league’s best offensive players almost universally orchestrate out of the pick-and-roll, it makes pairing Sengun with another star difficult.
Sengun will need an organization to be all on
The reason why the Rockets would entertain trading Alperen Sengun is the same reason he’s such an exciting young player. His skill set and gifts are unique and require a team to be completely bought in. The question is if the Rockets believe that can lead to a team capable of winning a championship and if they’re willing to try.
With how the Rockets have operated under Rafael Stone, it wouldn’t be a shock if they weren’t sold on Sengun-ball. They hired Stephen Silas to run a spaced-out perimeter-oriented pick-and-roll attack, drafted Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr with the second and third picks in consecutive drafts, and have publicly prioritized flexibility.
The Rockets might be crazy to consider trading Alperen Sengun, but they might also be on to something. If you don’t believe in his talent and aren’t willing to build a roster around him, then you shouldn’t keep him around. I doubt the Rockets trade Sengun this offseason, but the idea that they would consider it makes sense. If you’re not sold on Sengun the future superstar, then you should sell on Sengun the prospect.