Alperen Şengün: A Turkish Delight
The Houston Rockets have had a season to forget. But among the disarray and disappointment of yet another year wallowing in the tank, Alperen Sengun has been outstanding and quickly become an NBA fan favorite all the way from Houston to Turkey. Jalen Green and Jabari Smith are still the two centerpieces of this latest rebuild, but Alperen Sengun has certainly established himself as a cornerstone for the franchise and a potential all-star in the making.
An Artist in the Paint
A skilled low-post scorer with oodles of confidence and a low center of gravity, Sengun is best at using his strength and footwork to carve out space in the lane. As a shot creator, his bag features a cheeky potpourri of soft push shots, slow-motion fakes and pivots, Hakeem-like twists and turns, and ambidextrous flicks and finishes. For a 20-year-old in just his second season, he is already such a crafty, polished scorer in the post, and his bag will only get deeper with more reps and experience.
At this point, Sengun’s impact as a scorer is mostly confined to the paint. His overall shot profile is nearly identical to Damontas Sabonis. Both players can occasionally pop a set shot at the top of the key, and neither is exactly a natural shooter. However, what could elevate Sengun as a scorer above Sabonis is the push shot, one of his most effective shots in the lane. Sengun has the touch and skill to emulate Nikola Jokic’s mastery of this old-school shot to great effect.
In the same vein as his Serbian idol in Denver, playmaking is where “Baby Jokic” puts on a show. There is one word to describe Alperen Sengun as a passer: cheeky. With a deep bag of tricks and unbridled confidence, Sengun is just as creative as he is courageous on the court; just as improvisational as he is unpredictable with the ball. Whether on the block or on the roll, he has this virtuosic ability to pick out cutters and shooters from impossible delivery angles with an array of creative fakes and misdirection moves. Surrounded by scorers and shooters as talented as Jalen Green and Jabari Smith, Alperen Sengun has the tools to become a playmaking hub for an elite offense.
With that said, Alperen Sengun has a lot of room to improve as a decision-maker before he can be trusted with the keys to an offense. Sometimes, he overlooks an easy feed in favor of a flashy dish. On the bright side, these kinds of mistakes never seem to shake his confidence, which is exactly what you want to see in a young player. At his best, Sengun processes the game like a chess prodigy three moves ahead of his opponent. At his worst, he gets ahead of himself and overcomplicates simple plays.
Similar to Sabonis and Jokic, the rain on this parade arrives on the defensive side of the ball. To describe him as an average athlete would be optimistic. This makes him vulnerable in screen actions, and he lacks the verticality and size to be a deterrent at the rim. Constructing a solid defense with Sengun in the middle will be a challenge. However, Tari Eason and Jabari Smith both have the size and versatility to become elite defensive players who can mitigate these defensive limitations.
An International Star On and Off the Court
Watching this inexperienced Rockets team play one-way, pick-up ball in the NBA has been tough, to say the least. But Alpy is just as charismatic off the court as he is entertaining on the court. From Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green to Josh Christopher and Kevin Porter, what this team lacks in on-court performance they make up for with Toyota Center fashion walks. Alpy’s style in particular strikes the balance between street leisure and walkway luxury, and he stands head and shoulders above the rest of the league when it comes to pulling off a pair of haute couture sunglasses.
But before he was a familiar face on LeagueFits and House of Highlights, Alperen Sengun was an international star for Turkey. Anyone familiar with Turkish sports knows that their fans are crazy loyal, so you’ll notice waves of Turkish support flooding the comment section of any Instagram post featuring Sengun. Before entering the NBA, he played for Beşiktaş in Turkey’s Basketball Super League (BSL), where he earned the title of 20-21 MVP. He also starred for the Turkish national team at Eurobasket 2022, where he led his team to a nail-biter, overtime loss to France in the round of 16.
Ever proud of his roots and fanbase, Sengun is just as loyal to his Turkish fans as they are to him. Now, the city of Houston is falling for the charm of this Turkish Delight. With Alperen Sengun on the team, the Rockets’ future is bright and the vibes are immaculate.
Images from alperen.sengun/ Instagram