Rockets’ Alperen Sengun reminds Shaquille O’Neal of a young Pau Gasol

Alperen Sengun Rockets pic
Alperen Sengun Rockets pic

At 25-33, the Rockets have struggled to win consistently in 2023-24. Houston has an impressive 20-10 record at home this season. However, they are just 5-23 on the road. A drastic difference that currently has the Rockets at 12th in the Western Conference. The positives are few and far between for Houston this season. 

However, 21-year-old Alperen Sengun has continued to get better each year. The former first-round pick has proven that he is more than just a center. Sengun is a skilled passer and has a high basketball IQ. He knows how to manipulate the defense and get his team extra possessions. Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal said that Sengun reminds him of a young Pau Gasol. Quite the compliment for Sengun in his third professional season.

Shaquille O’Neal said Alperen Sengun reminds him of a young Pau Gasol

On Tuesday’s edition of the NBA on TNT, Shaquille O’Neal made an interesting statement about Houston’s Alperen Sengun. The Hall of Famer center compared Sengun to a younger version of another Hall of Famer. Shaq said Sengun reminds him of a young Pau Gasol. That’s some elite company for Sengun to be mentioned in by O’Neal. While Sengun and the Rockets haven’t had much team success, he’s still been the most important piece of their franchise.

This season, Sengun has missed only one game for Houston and has made 57 starts. He’s averaging a career-high (21.1) points, (9.2) rebounds, (4.9) assists, and (1.1) steals per game. It’s all starting to come together for the young center in year three. At this stage in his career, Pau Gasol was statistically averaging fewer points, rebounds, and assists per game than Sengun. However, Gasol and Sengun do play different styles of basketball. Sengun being this talented in his third season is huge for his future development.

The only thing missing in Sengun’s game is a consistent shot from deep. If he can get closer to 33 or 34 percent, defenders would have to close out and respect his range. That could open up the lane for more assist opportunities. It’s only year three for Sengun and he’ll continue to work on his efficiency from beyond the arc. Other than that, the 21-year-old is the complete package as a center. Other players in the modern NBA he’s been compared to are Nikola Jokic and Domantas Sabonis. If he continues to play well, Sengun could easily be an all-star in the future.

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