As one of the rising stars of the NBA, Alperen Sengun continues to develop into a fantastic all-around player for the Houston Rockets. Sengun has turned into the Rockets' catalyst as Houston enjoys its best season since 2019-20.

The Rockets are still a long shot to make the playoffs with a 25-33 record, despite Sengun's best efforts to lead a young Houston team into the postseason. Sengun recorded his 26th double-double of the season Tuesday night, posting 23 points and 11 rebounds in a 17-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

After the game, Shaquille O'Neal compared Houston's center to a fellow Hall of Fame big man and expressed his desire to see Sengun play with other stars.

“He reminds me of a young Pau Gasol,” O'Neal said on TNT's Inside the NBA. “I would like to see him on a better team. If he was on a team that has a lot of talent around him, they would definitely do well.”

Houston riding out the rebuild

The Rockets are fully committed to building around their young core with Sengun emerging as the centerpiece. Of the 18 players on Houston's roster this season (according to Basketball Reference) 11 of them entered the season with less than four years of NBA experience.

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Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Damian Lillard holding All-Star Game MVP trophies.

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Sengun leads the team in points (21.1) and rebounds (9.2) per game, as well as shooting percentage (54 percent). He also leads Houston in total steals (64) and is second behind Fred Van Vleet with 4.9 assists per game.

O'Neal's comments might not sit well with Rockets fans given the team's ascension this season. Houston averaged under 20 wins over the last three seasons. It's on pace to win 35 games this season, a huge improvement under first-year head coach Ime Udoka.

Alperen Sengun has been a large part of that and the Rockets likely want to keep him long-term. The 21-year-old could be in line for a massive contract extension this summer. Houston should be inclined to give it to him.