The Houston Rockets are one of the surprise teams in the NBA this season and perhaps no player's stock has risen quite like Alperen Sengun's. The 21-year-old's explosive start to the campaign has prompted many to anoint him as the future of the Rockets franchise. It's hard to argue with the impressive numbers.
Following a 23-point showing in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, Sengun became the youngest Rockets player to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in his career. The previous record holder was Rodney McCray, who was nearly three years older than Sengun when he accomplished the feat during the 1985-86 season.
Sengun has three double-doubles in 11 games and is averaging career-highs in points and assists. He's shooting 59 percent from the field and is playing over 31 minutes per game.
Rockets for real?
Though the Rockets have been bad for quite some time, Houston has developed a nice little pool of talent through the draft and some key signings of veterans. Bringing in head coach Ime Udoka has sent a spark through the young Rockets locker room and perhaps they are extra motivated to improve sooner rather than later with the caliber of coach they have.
Alperen Sengun appears to be one of those players and his stock has improved tremendously with Udoka coaching him. He had a solid but uninspiring rookie season but followed it with a mini-breakout in 2022-23 when he averaged 14.8 points and nine rebounds a game.
This season's 11 games is a small sample size, but his elevation to the next level is surely in motion. Houston as a team may be ahead of schedule in their competitive window but the Rockets won’t complain about missing on a better draft pick if they already have All-Stars on their roster and are selling more tickets.
It's unfair to assume the Rockets can keep up this momentum and stick around .500 all season. A playoff berth is still unlikely after winning a combined 59 games over the last three seasons, but Houston will be a fun team to watch all season long.