Steal of the Draft: Sengun Showing Out at Summer League


Houston selected Jalen Green as the new face of its franchise, and rightfully so. His elite scoring prowess is already extremely mature for a 19-year-old and he’s only going to get better. However, Green is not the only building block for the Rockets.

Midway through the first round, the Rockets traded two future first-rounders to acquire the 16th pick. That selection became Alperen Sengun. He’s quietly displaying himself as a huge sleeper in this draft and could develop into an elite big man for the Rockets moving forward.

Background on Sengun

Sengun hails from Turkey and has been playing professional basketball since 2018. As a third-year pro in the Turkish Basketball Super League, he averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals. He shot 64.6% overall, 19% from three, and 81.2% from the stripe. With all the damage done, Sengun wound up winning the Turkish League MVP at just 18 years old.

In the Europe Cup (2020-2021), he averaged 23.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 1.7 steals. He shot 71.0% overall and 69.4% from the free-throw line. What’s stood out is his tremendous efficiency, especially from 2-point range. He shot 67.9% and 75.9% from 2-point range in the BSL and Europe Cup, respectively. While Sengun didn’t shoot the three-ball well overseas, but the sample size is quite small (0.7 attempts per game in BSL and only two total attempts in the Europe Cup).

There’s an abundance of attributes to like about this kid. Even lacking elite explosiveness, athleticism, or speed, he established a stupendous skill level and frequently outsmarts his opponents, which led to his first-round selection in the best league in the world.

Summer League Success

Sengun has been quietly dominating in NBA Summer League, but hasn’t received enough attention due to the lack of hype around his name. Although he struggled shooting from the field in his debut (3/10 FG, 0-1 3PT, 9/14 FT), he showed a knack to pull fouls, rebound, and make the right reads defensively. He posted a double-double with 15 points, 15 rebounds (seven offensive!), four blocks, three assists, and one steal. He was in a showdown against the third overall pick, Evan Mobley, and definitely outplayed him.

Sengun definitely wanted to tidy-up his play in the second matchup against Pistons and did just that. He contributed 21 points, eight rebounds, four blocks, three assists, and one steal. His efficiency was astounding (8/14 FG, 1/2 3PT) and made a huge impact in the win alongside fellow rookies Jalen Green and Josh Christopher. Sengun’s playing style brings two players to mind: Nikola Vucevic and Donatas Montiejunas.


The Vucevic Comparison

First, both Sengun and Vucevic were the 16th overall picks in their respective drafts. Vucevic is a beast on the court who doesn’t receive enough credit for his quiet dominance. Like Segun, he isn’t the fastest guy- but succeeds with a high basketball IQ and a plethora of offensive moves. He makes great reads whether it’s assisting his teammates, shooting, finishing in the paint, or just rebounding.

In two of the past three seasons, Vucevic has averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, cementing himself as an all-star twice. He’s also averaged a double-double in a remarkable seven out of ten seasons.

The biggest separations between the two players is three-point shooting and free-throw shooting. Vucevic is a career 35.7% three-point shooter and 75.6% free-throw shooter. Last season, he shot career-highs in both (40% 3PT, 84% FT). He also attempted a career-high 6.3 threes per game.

This is sign for Sengun to trust himself and shoot threes to establish rhythm and confidence. He is already showing the signs of a blossoming star and just turned 19 on July 25. Sengun’s shot-blocking ability and post play are one step in the right direction, and if he develops a better deep ball, reaching Vucevic’s skill level would be a great goal.

The Montiejunas Comparison

Donatas Montiejunas isn’t a household name, but he is a former Rocket (2012-2016). He’s a lefty with a nice European swagger that’s crafty in the post as a passer, and has elite footwork to pull off Dream-shakes and bait defenders. I was always excited excited when he would come off the bench and ultimately became a starter alongside Dwight Howard in the 2015 season. Let’s take a little flash black.

In 2015, Montiejunas averaged 12.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. He was always pretty efficient and shot 50.4% overall and 36.8% from beyond the arc that season. Although he’s not a lefty, Segun’s game has a similar flavor to it.

Montiejunas was a solid player, but Segun’ ceiling is beyond that. Sengun has an innate ability to mimic positive attributes of others and incorporate it into his own game- a rare talent. Look at the late, great Kobe Bryant for example. The Black Mamba learned low-post moves from one of the G.O.A.Ts, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, our beloved Houston Rockets legend.

A Legacy of Bigs

Houston knows a little something about drafting big men, having drafted Olajuwon and Yao Ming. Many teams were stuck on snooze when they passed up on Segun in the draft. He has an opportunity to cement himself as a superstar big man and is prepared for the NBA having developed an immense amount of skill playing overseas. 

Watching Summer League is already exciting, but the regular season is right around the corner- Rockets fans are already brimming with anticipation. Thanks to their skill sets and endless potential, the Rockets’ big man duo of Christian Wood and Sengun could be the next great pairing to take over the NBA.



About Corey Randall

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