We are running out of superlatives to describe Alperen Sengun. Great, on the rise, Baby Jokic and wizard are amongst the many compliments sent Sengun way. When drafted number 16 in 2021, many believed Sengun would be good, but most of the talk was about Cade Cunningham, the Houston Rockets very own Jalen Green and Evan Mobley. Even after the season ended, Scottie Barnes brought home the Rookie of the Year award.
Sengun had shown flashes in the previous two seasons of possibly being an exceptional talent, but a combination of foul trouble and bad coaching limited his chances to take the next step. This season, that has all changed, as Ime Udoka has turned over the reigns to Sengun, and the results have been beyond what even the Rockets expected.
Sengun is averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, assists and free throw percentage. Among centers, Sengun is seventh in points, fourth in assists, and top 20 in rebounds. He has taken over the mantle of Rockets' best player, and it's no more evident than the statement made by Ime Udoka on multiple occasions. When asked about moments the Rockets would struggle on offense, Coach Udoka would say that Sengun is a "calming presence" on the offensive end.
It's not just Sengun's coach; multiple players and opposing coaches have sung Sengun's praises. From Monty Williams:
Monty Williams on the Pistons locker room after the final buzzer: pic.twitter.com/F0FRwsePU9— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 31, 2023
Coach Jacque Vahn:
Brooklyn Nets coach Jacque Vaughn credits the game's change of momentum to #Rockets Alperen Şengün— 28 (@iamsohappy28) January 4, 2024
Question: This was a 5 point game around the 3rd quarter, what changed that allowed the Rockets to go on a run and change that momentum?
Coach Vaughn: "Şengün"
He continues: pic.twitter.com/D5lx8drab9
Future Hall of Famers like Kevin Durant:
Alperen Sengun is one of Kevin Durant's favorite young players pic.twitter.com/E89jPnp1uM— BasketNews (@BasketNews_com) January 28, 2023
Even the all-time leading scorer, the King himself, LeBron James, had this to say about Sengun.
"He is getting more comfortable in every game. They trust him. Obviously, he can post very effectively. He has a great ball-handling ability, can see the floor, great passing. He is a really good young piece."
The Sengun has left the Houston station and is now nationwide. His play lately, however, has even surpassed his early play in 2023-24. In his last six games, Sengun has scored 30-plus points in three of those games after only scoring 30-plus in his first 173 games.
This is how dominant Alperen Sengun has been all season but particularly lately.— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) January 4, 2024
Per the Rockets Sengun has scored 30 or more in 3 of his last 6 games. Prior to this 6 game stretch he scored 30 plus 3 times in the first 173 games of his career. pic.twitter.com/fLTHGZiN5v
Sengun is not only the Rocket's best player but has also become their slump buster and closer. The closer part is essential because the Rockets sometimes struggled to find the "guy" who could close out games in the clutch. As you read and heard Coach Vaughn's comments about what changed for the Rockets to go on the run, he said, "Sengun."
I am sure even the Rockets did not expect that Sengun, not Green, would be the team cornerstone three seasons later. As I mentioned earlier, the cat is out of the bag on Sengun, and it showed in the initial release of the NBA All-Star voting.
Alperen Sengun is top 7 in Western Conference voting for the front court pic.twitter.com/KebQznLtQw— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) January 4, 2024
Sengun is in the top seven in All-Star voting for Western Conference frontcourt players. It is probably a long shot that Sengun will be voted a starter, but the coaches decide the reserves, and he has a much better chance of making the team a reserve. Sengun has more votes than Victor Wembanyama, De'Aron Fox and Anthony Edwards.
The crazy thing about Sengun is he will only get better. You would think Sengun is a 10-year veteran, but he is still only 21 years old. It's just a matter of time before Sengun is an All-Star. That is a foregone conclusion. At this point, we must start contemplating whether Sengun will become an All-NBA player and maybe one day the top center in the entire league.