Alperen Şengün has a chance to be better than Nikola Jokić

Every generation of NBA players brings something new to the table, revolutionizing how their positions are taught, scouted, and played. For the current generation, Nikola Jokić is the player who has changed the game for centers. However, there is a new player on the rise who could follow in Jokić’s footsteps and dominate the NBA landscape – Alperen Şengün.

Şengün, a third-year center for the Houston Rockets and a Turkish sensation, has already been dubbed “Baby Jokić” due to the similarities in their offensive games and passing skills. He burst onto the international basketball scene as the MVP of the Turkish League in 2021, putting up impressive stats and shooting splits. His all-around game and passing abilities have drawn comparisons to Jokić, and Şengün himself acknowledges the influence Jokić has had on him.

Like Jokić, Şengün dominates the high post, using his playmaking skills to find cutting guards or slipping into the short roll. He excels in dribble-hand-off situations, using his size and skill to create separation from defenders before delivering precise passes to his teammates. While Jokić has been doing this for a longer time, Şengün has shown similar abilities at a younger age, surpassing the 20 points per game mark a season earlier than Jokić did.

However, Şengün brings his own unique strengths to the game as well. He has improved his long mid-range shooting this season, drawing double-teams that create spacing for his teammates. His impact on both ends of the floor is evident in the Rockets’ on/off numbers, with his presence making a significant difference in their offense and defense.

In terms of athleticism, Şengün appears to have an edge over Jokić due to his lighter frame and lateral mobility. He has already shown promise as a rim runner and shot blocker, surpassing Jokić’s numbers in both categories last season. While it’s too early to say if he will reach Jokić’s level, Şengün has the potential to be almost as good, making him the best big man in the game once Jokić ages out.

Looking beyond the stats, Şengün possesses that “dawg mentality” that separates stars from superstars. He has shown the ability to turn a poor performance into an outstanding one, as seen in a recent game against the Bulls where he erupted for 25 points in the second half. His development on the defensive end under new coach Ime Udoka has been remarkable, showcasing his willingness to improve and his coachability.

While Şengün still has room for improvement, particularly in his perimeter shooting, his growth under Udoka’s coaching proves that he is capable of reaching new heights. Like Jokić, Şengün’s potential is in his own hands, and he has the tools to become one of the best big men in the NBA.

In conclusion, Alperen Şengün is the next European player poised to dominate the NBA landscape. With his offensive skills, passing abilities, and relentless work ethic, he is following in the footsteps of Nikola Jokić and changing how the center position is played. While it remains to be seen how far he can go, Şengün has the potential to be a force in the league and establish himself as one of the best big men of his generation.

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