From time to time, an Alperen Sengun spotlight goes viral, and the world will get a glimpse on the absurdly enjoyable, extremely distinctive type of the middle from Turkey. It occurred a number of weeks in the past and I instantly determined that Sengun can be the main focus of the subsequent Rookie Highlight.
Earlier than you watch the spotlight, simply keep in mind that Sengun is 6-10, 243 kilos and 19 years outdated. Okay, roll it…
His sport is a charming mixture of old-fashioned and new faculty. Sure, he likes to put up up and that kind of basketball has largely turn out to be extinct within the pace-and-space period; however he additionally has the imaginative and prescient and savvy playmaking capability that immediately’s groups need out of their massive males (assume Nikola Jokic, Domantas Sabonis or Draymond Inexperienced). He combines physicality and beauty; bully ball and finesse; power and a smooth contact; manufacturing and aptitude.
Earlier than coming to the NBA, Sengun was the 2020-21 MVP of the Turkish Basketball Tremendous League, averaging 19.2 factors, 9.4 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals. Houston traded a pair of future first-rounders for the 16th total choose within the 2021 Draft so they may take him. “He’s distinctive. He doesn’t actually play like anyone,” Rockets basic supervisor Rafael Stone told the media afterwards. “However having stated that—that he doesn’t actually have a sport that appears like anybody else’s—he’s a superb basketball participant. He’s a talented basketball participant. He’s not simply anyone who does one factor. He does plenty of actually attention-grabbing issues. And so, we expect he doubtlessly has an opportunity to be particular.”
Sengun’s growth was projected to take time, particularly given the drastic variations between the sport in Turkey and the NBA. However, after all, the Rockets are in no rush. The total rebuild is on, and Sengun is anticipated to be one of many centerpieces of it.
Right here’s the factor, although: Sengun is basically good already. It’s not simply the occasional viral clip—the numbers inform the identical story. As of this writing, Sengun is averaging 9.0 factors, 4.8 rebounds and a pair of.6 assists in merely 18.4 minutes per sport. Per 36, that’s 17.6 factors, 9.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists—to not point out 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks. He put up 15/6/6 and three blocks in a sport towards the Grizzlies in mid-December. A couple of days later, he dropped 19/11/5 towards the Cavaliers.
At instances all through the season, Houston’s offense has seemed considerably higher with Sengun on the ground. He scores effectively, shares the ball and creates for others. A few of his assists, just like the one above and the one beneath, appear unattainable till he makes them.
Head coach Stephen Silas has additionally given him extra alternatives to work on the put up, seeing how Sengun has thrived there. His footwork is extraordinarily superior for his age (check the spin) and he finishes properly with each arms. As he informed Kelly Iko of The Athletic, the rookie is planning to coach with Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon within the close to future, selecting up extra strikes for his arsenal.
“Clearly we’ve been posting up much more than I had anticipated,” Silas stated, through The Athletic. “And the extra I see [Sengun] do, the extra I give him. He likes the ball on the left block, and I’ve been giving it to him on the precise block, and he’s been profitable. We’ve been working after-timeout performs for him to catch it within the put up, whether or not it’s a cross-screen or rip or no matter. I’m going again to my outdated playbook with Elden Campbell and Jamal Mashburn and people guys, posting these guys up. I had not anticipated taking part in as a lot post-up basketball as we’re, and he’s earned it.”
Going ahead, Sengun wants to enhance as a fringe shooter (up to now, he’s taking pictures simply 31 p.c from three) and on the defensive finish, the place he fouls an excessive amount of (averaging 6.0 per 36 minutes) and the Rockets have struggled total with him within the sport. A variety of that may include expertise, reps and getting more and more accustomed to the pace of the NBA. Although the highlights repeatedly circulating on social media could be deceiving, he’s nonetheless only a 19-year-old rook.
Talking of these highlights, a pair extra for you…