Alperen Şengün

Turkish basketball player (born 2002)

Alperen Şengün
Şengün with the Houston Rockets in 2023
No. 28 – Houston Rockets
Personal information
Born (2002-07-25) 25 July 2002 (age 21)
Giresun, Turkey
Listed height6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight243 lb (110 kg)
Career information
NBA draft2021: 1st round, 16th overall pick
Selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder
Playing career2018–present
Career history
2018–2019Bandırma Kırmızı
2019–2020Teksüt Bandırma
2021–presentHouston Rockets
Career highlights and awards
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at

Alperen Şengün ([ˈalpeɾæn ˈʃæŋɟyn]; born 25 July 2002) is a Turkish professional basketball player for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He also represents the senior Turkish national team. A center, Şengün is considered one of the best Turkish-born prospects in the NBA, having been the youngest player to win the Basketball Super League's Most Valuable Player Award in 2021 at the age of 18 years and 10 months.[1] He was selected with the 16th pick in the first round of the 2021 NBA draft.

Early life and youth career

Alperen Şengün was born in Giresun, northeast Turkey, on 25 July 2002.[2][3] His parents wanted him to be a swimmer, but instead, he preferred basketball, as he was inspired by seeing his older brother play the sport before. He started playing basketball at the age of eight. Early on, he competed in both sports simultaneously. However, due to practical issues, like a lack of necessary time that was needed to train for both sports properly, he had to choose between the two and finally decided to continue with basketball.[4]

Giresun University (2012–2014)

In 2012, Şengün began playing youth system basketball with the youth teams of the sports club of Giresun University,[5] where he played until 2014.[3]

Banvit (2014–2019)

After being scouted by head coach Ahmet Gürgen during a youth sports festival, Şengün moved to Bandırma in northwest Turkey, to join the youth teams of the Turkish club Bandırma, which was then known as Banvit.[4] By August 2014, he had signed a youth contract with Banvit.[6] In the 2018–19 season, while competing with Banvit's juniors, Şengün eventually won the Turkish Basketball Youth League championship (which was established in 2017). Şengün was also named the Turkish Youth League's MVP.[7]

Professional career

Bandırma Kırmızı (2018–2019)

Şengün began his professional club career in the 2018–19 TBL season with Bandırma Kırmızı, of the second-division Turkish First League (TBL). In 29 games played in Turkey's second division, he averaged 10.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 21.9 minutes per game, shot 47.6 percent from the field overall, 53.6 percent on two-point field goal attempts, 25.9 percent on three-point field goal attempts, and 60.0 percent from the free-throw line.[8]

Teksüt Bandırma (2019–2020)

Şengün joined the first division Turkish Super League (BSL) club Teksüt Bandırma, for the 2019–20 BSL season. In 22 games played in Turkey's first division, he averaged 5.0 points and 3.9 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game. He shot 51.1 percent from the field overall, 57.5 percent on two-point field goal attempts, 0–10 on three-point field goal attempts, and 58.6 percent from the free-throw line.[8][9]

He also played in one of Europe's two secondary-level competitions, the FIBA Basketball Champions League. During the 2019–20 BCL season, he averaged 6.6 points ans 3.3 rebounds in 14.9 minutes per game across 15 games played. He shot 48.0 percent from the field overall, 53.6 percent on two-point field goal attempts, 31.6 percent three-point field goal attempts, and 63.6 percent from the free-throw line.[10]

Beşiktaş (2020–2021)

In August 2020, Şengün signed a three-year contract with the Turkish club Beşiktaş.[11] He had an excellent regular season with Beşiktaş, as he averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks in 28.3 minutes per game across 29 games played in the Basketball Super League.[12] On 12 May 2021, he was named the MVP of the BSL's regular season.[13] On the same day, he announced his decision to enter 2021 NBA draft.[14]

Overall, in Turkey's 2020–21 BSL season, in 28.1 minutes per game, he averaged 18.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.5 blocks in 34 games played. He shot 62.6 percent from the field overall, 66.7 percent on two-point field goal attempts, 21.2 percent on three-point field goal attempts, and 81.2 percent from the free-throw line.[15] He also played with Beşiktaş in the fourth-level European-wide competition, the FIBA Europe Cup. In the Europe Cup's 2020–21 season, in 29.7 minutes per game, he averaged 23.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals, and two blocks in three games played. He shot 71.0 percent from the field overall, 75.9 percent on two-point field goal attempts, 0–2 on three-point field goal attempts, and 69.4 percent from the free-throw line.[16]

Houston Rockets (2021–present)

Şengün during his rookie season with the Rockets, December 2021

2021–22 season: Rookie season

Before the 2021 NBA draft, Şengün was originally projected to be a potential lottery draft pick but was instead drafted outside the lottery and was selected with the 16th overall pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was later traded to the Houston Rockets for two future first-round picks.[17][18][19] On 7 August 2021, he signed a contract with the Rockets.[20] On 20 October, Şengün made his NBA debut, putting up 11 points, six rebounds, two assists, and three steals in a 124–106 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.[21] On 9 March 2022, Şengün scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in a 139–130 overtime win against the Los Angeles Lakers.[22] 17 days later, on 26 March, he put up a then-career-high 27 points along with seven rebounds in a 115–98 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.[23] After his rookie season was over, Şengün had played 72 games while missing the last 10 games due to an injury and started 13 games in the lineup. He averaged 9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game on 47.4 percent shooting from the field and 24.8 percent from three in his rookie season.[24]

2022–23 season: Improving as a sophomore

In the off-season, the Rockets chose Bruno Fernando over Şengün to become the starting center after trading away Christian Wood to the Dallas Mavericks.[25] During the early start of the season, the team promoted Şengün to become a full-time starter after Fernando's injury.[26] On 26 November 2022, he recorded 21 points and seven assists along with a then-career-high 19 rebounds in a 118–105 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.[27] On 6 December, in a 132–123 win against the Philadelphia 76ers, he became the youngest center at 20 years and 133 days of age to post 1,000 points and 200 assists, surpassing Brad Daugherty's record at age 21 and 153 days old.[28]

I think he's really talented. Maybe this is going to sound weird, but I think they need to play a little bit more through him. Sometimes they look a little bit more stagnant... with all their 3s. This guy has the talent. He can pass the ball, He can post up, he has the touch around the rim. You can see some different moves that he's made.

Nikola Jokić, speaks highly of Alperen Şengün, 29 November 2022.[29]

On 11 January 2023, Şengün put up his first career triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in a 135–115 loss to the Sacramento Kings. He also became the youngest player in Rockets history to record a triple-double in a game.[30] On 16 January, he put up a career-high 33 points along with 15 rebounds, six assists, and four blocks in a 140–132 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.[31] He also became the youngest player in Rockets history to record at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in a game, breaking Hakeem Olajuwon's record set in 1984. He subsequently became the youngest center in NBA history to record at least 30 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists in a game, surpassing Shaquille O'Neal's record set in 1993.[32] On 25 January, he recorded his second career triple-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 108–103 loss to the Washington Wizards. He also became the youngest center in NBA history to record multiple triple-doubles before turning 21 years old.[33] Şengün grabbed a season career high of 21 rebounds with 14 points in a game win against the Charlotte Hornets on 7 April.[34] He recorded the most assists per game for a center at 20 or younger, surpassing his own record from his rookie season.[citation needed]

Starting in 72 out of 75 games he played, Şengün finished the season averaging 14.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists, shooting .553 from the field, and playing a total 28.9 minutes per game. His sophomore season had brought some attention from other NBA star players, describing his talent as phenomenal. Kevin Durant was asked on which young players he really enjoys watching play: "I would say I was going to give some love to Alperen Şengün. I like Sengun. He was dunking on a couple of people. I didn't know he could get up like that. He's nice. I like him."[35] and Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George compared Şengün's passing and rebound playmaking to Magic Johnson, Pau Gasol, and Jokić.[36] Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards said in an interview that the Rockets should build around him more so than his teammates Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr.[37]

2023–24 season: Breakthrough

On 31 October 2023, the Rockets announced that they exercised Şengün fourth-year option.[38] In a home game win against the Charlotte Hornets on 1 November, Şengün became the youngest center in NBA history to reach 500 assists at age 21 years and 99 days, surpassing Jokić's previous record of 22 years and 40 days old.[39][40] On 20 November, he became the youngest Rockets player to reach 2000+ points, 1000+ rebounds and 500+ assists at age 21 years and 114 days, in a 105–104 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, surpassing Rodney McCray record of 24 years and 58 days set in 1985.[41] On 23 December he scored a then career-high 37 points along with 11 rebounds and six assists in a 106–104 win against the New Orleans Pelicans.[42]

During the week of 1–7 January 2024, Şengün led the Rockets to a 3–1 record and was awarded his first career NBA player of the week award.[43] On 20 January 2024, Şengün tied his then career-high with 37 points, along with 14 rebounds and six assists in a 127–126 overtime win over the Utah Jazz.[44] On 21 January, he record his first triple-double of the season with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 116–107 loss against the Boston Celtics.[45] On 24 January, Şengün and teammate Jalen Green became the first duo in NBA history to score 30+ points and 10+ rebounds at 21 years or younger in a 135–119 win against the Los Angeles Lakers.[46] On 5 March, Şengün put up a career-high 45 points along with 16 rebounds in a 114–101 win over the San Antonio Spurs while being guarded by rookie Victor Wembanyama.[47][48] His 45 points surpassed Mehmet Okur, who had previously scored 43 in 2009, for the highest single-game score by a Turkish player in the NBA.[49] He became the fifth player to total 45+ points, 15+ rebounds, and 5+ steals in a game since 1973–74, when steals were tracked joining Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, James Harden and John Drew, and the youngest player at age 21 and 224 days old to ever record the line.[50] On 6 March, Şengün put up his second triple-double of the season with 23 points, 19 rebounds, and a career-high 14 assists, becoming the first center in NBA history to achieve those numbers in a game from a 122–116 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.[51][52] On 10 March, Şengün suffered a grade 3 ankle sprain in his right ankle and sustained a bone bruise in his right knee after colliding with Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis. The injury occurred when the Rockets were leading by eight points with 39.1 seconds left to play in the fourth quarter. He was unable to walk and exited the game in a wheelchair while receiving ovations in Golden 1 Center. Şengün finished the game by playing 29 minutes with 14 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals as the Rockets won 112–104.[53][54] Two days later, it was announced that he would most likely miss the rest of the regular season.[55]

National team career

Junior national team

Şengün competed with the Turkish under-16 national team at the 2018 FIBA Under-16 European Championship, which was held in Novi Sad, Serbia, where he finished the competition by winning the bronze medal. Şengün was also selected to the competition's All-Tournament Team. In seven games played during the tournament, he averaged 14.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game in 24.9 minutes per game. He shot 56.9 percent from the field overall, 61.9 percent on two-point field goal attempts, 22.2 percent on three-point field goal attempts, and 48.6 percent from the free-throw line.[56]

He was also a part of the Turkish under-17 national team that competed at the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup, which was held in Argentina. Turkey finished that tournament in fifth place.[3][4][57] In seven games played at that tournament, he averaged 15.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 28.6 minutes per game. He shot 58.3 percent from the field overall, 64.1 percent on two-point field goal attempts, 12.5 percent on three-point field goal attempts, and 56.5 percent from the free-throw line.[58]

Şengün also played at the 2019 FIBA Under-18 European Championship, with the Turkish under-18 national team, which won the tournament's silver medal. He was also selected to that competition's All-Tournament Team, being the only Turkish player that was chosen for that honor.[59] In seven games played at that tournament, he averaged 11.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.7 blocks in 23.0 minutes per game. He shot 54.5 percent from the field overall, 59.2 percent on two-point field goal attempts, 16.7 percent on three-point field goal attempts, and 59.5 percent from the free-throw line.[60]

Senior national team

Şengün with the Turkey national team in 2020

In November 2020, Şengün joined the senior Turkish national team, as he played with Turkey at the 2022 EuroBasket Qualifiers. In four games played at the qualifiers, he averaged 12.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks in 23.1 minutes per game. He shot 53.3 percent from the field overall, 51.9 percent on two-point field goal attempts, 66.7 percent on three-point field goal attempts, and 50 percent from the free-throw line.[61]

In September 2022, Şengün played at EuroBasket 2022. He was the best player on the team, leading the team in points (16.8 per game) and rebounds (8.2 per game).[62] Şengün and Turkey were eliminated in the round of 16 after losing to France in overtime.[63]

Player profile

Standing at 6 feet 11 inches (2.11 metres) and 243 pounds (110 kilograms) with a seven-foot wingspan, Şengün plays at the power forward and center position. NBA commentators and scouts considered him one of the most "skilled" and "productive" big men entering the 2021 NBA draft following his "dominant" season in the Turkish League.[64][65][66] With a solid frame and wide base, he is known for a versatile and highly efficient low-post game that utilizes drop steps, spin moves, and fadeaways.[64][67] Şengün is additionally equipped with an impressive and elite passing ability that is supplemented by what scouts view as an advanced feel for the court—i.e., his ability to space the court, set screens, cut to the rim, and make plays within the flow of the offense.[68][69] As a defender, he is most effective on on-ball matchups in isolation against other big men, though his defense in general has been called into question.[66] His free-throw routine where he speaks to the basketball has also garnered attention by NBA commentators.[70]

His skillset has been compared to such European big men as Domantas Sabonis and Nikola Vučević,[71][72] and other big men such as Kevin Love, Bobby Portis, Kevin McHale, and Tom Gugliotta.[73][74][72] He has cited Nikola Jokić as an inspiration for his game.[75][76]

Career statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high


2021–22 Houston 72 13 20.7 .474 .248 .711 5.5 2.6 .8 .9 9.6
2022–23 Houston 75 72 28.9 .553 .333 .715 9.0 3.9 .9 .9 14.8
2023–24 Houston 63 63 32.5 .537 .297 .693 9.3 5.0 1.2 .7 21.1
Career 210 148 27.2 .528 .284 .705 7.9 3.8 1.0 .9 14.9

FIBA Champions League

2019–20 Teksüt Bandırma 15 15 14.0 .480 .316 63.6 3.1 .6 .3 .7 6.6 5.3

FIBA Europe Cup

2020–21 Beşiktaş 3 3 29.7 .710 .000 .694 7.3 2.7 1.7 2.0 23.0 24.3


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