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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets' rookie big man Alperen Sengun has a "very unique skillset"

Posted: August 9, 2021 -- 8:45 a.m.

LAS VEGAS, NV (Thomas & Mack Center) -- Sunday afternoon, Alperen Sengun, one of the 4 Rockets' rookies Houston acquired in the 2021 NBA Draft, opened the eyes of a few folks who had not seen him play basketball. Sengun tallied 15 points and 15 rebounds in Houston's 84-76 Summer League win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sengun, 6'9, 235, a native of Turkey, was the Turkish Super League MVP this past season for his club, Besiktas.

In Sunday's game versus the Cavs, Sengun made 3 of his 10 field goal attempts; but, despite being just 19 years of age, Sengun's old school, old man game resulted in 14 free throw attempts in 27 minutes. He made 9 free throws.

Rockets assistant coach Will Weaver is leading the Rockets' summer league squad. Weaver says opponents will have to adjust to Sengun more than Sengun will have to adjust to them.

"My sense is others are going to have to adjust to him more than he's going to have to adjust to others," Weaver remarked after the game. "For sure, some shots got blocked; but, you can see how quick he is recovering the ball and still making another attempt.

"He probably earned a trips to the foul line a few times where he created contact. Very unique skillset."

Coach Weaver added he'll need to a better job designing plays to maximize Sengun's skills.

"We're going to have do a better job - me in particular - of making sure of putting him in the spaces where other folks can benefit from how he sees the game and just what an incredible passer he is."

One of Sengun's biggest weaknesses before the NBA Draft was his defense. Sengun's defense versus the Cavs was not a weakness.

"It's all we can talk about as a coaching staff on the bench was how he closed speed," Coach Weaver beamed. "It looked like he was out of the play; and, he got back in plays and ended up blocking some shots with his forearm which is something that almost certainly is due to his level of play was like playing in Besiktas (Turkey) in Europe playing at a high level.

Sengun utilized his intelligence and anticipation to be in the right places at the right times which resulted in 4 blocked shots and drawing a charge in the game.

"Also, I think a credit to his tools," Weaver added. His mental tools as well; so, we're excited to try and unleash that in other ways."

Second-year Rockets forward KJ Martin said Alperen's game spoke for itself.

"He showed it for himself," Martin said. "He had 15 (points) and 15 (rebounds). That's exactly what we need."

Martin added he believes he and Alpe's skills mesh well together.

"Obviously, I feel like me and him can play well together," KJ added. "He likes to be in the post. He has good footwork and stuff; so, me feeding him and playing off of him and also me and him being in a pick-and-roll and handling. I think we'll go far."

KJ summarized Sengun's game succinctly:

"He's solid. He's solid."

NEXT: The Rockets next game in the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League takes place Tuesday, August 10, versus the Detroit Pistons. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT on ESPN.

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