Alperen Şengün was born on the 25th July 2002 in Giresun, Turkey. At a young age he was a swimmer as well as a basketball player but he began to focus on basketball. He played youth basketball for Giresun University before moving to Banvit. Şengün featured for the Turkish national teams at FIBA events in 2018 and 2019. In 2018 he was on the U16 Euro Championships A team that won bronze as well as on the U17 World Cup team. Then in 2019 he played on the U18 Euro Championships A team that won silver. Şengün made his senior team debut for Turkey in November in the EuroBasket Qualifiers.
Şengün started his professional career in the Turkish First League in the 2018/19 season for Bandırma Kırmızı where he averaged 10.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 22.3 minutes per game. For the 2019/20 season Şengün moved to Turkish Super League and Basketball Champions League team Teksüt Bandırma. Here he averaged 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game. This past season Şengün moved to Beşiktaş who are also in the Turkish Super League as well as the FIBA Europe Cup. Şengün really broke out this past season putting himself on the map as an early entrant draft candidate. He averaged 19.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists as well as 1.4 steals and 1.7 blocks in 28.6 minutes per game. Şengün won MVP of the regular season and then declared for the NBA Draft.
Standing at roughly 6’9 Şengün is a bit undersized for a true center. Some measurements have him listed at 6’10 so an official measurement at the draft combine will be interesting if he does decide to get measured. He doesn’t appear to be especially long; I would say he has just average length. At the center position he has great strength and that will still be the case in the NBA. It should definitely be noted that he has managed to get in to better shape in the past couple of years. His body looks much better as a result and he looks stronger.
Şengün would definitely translate over to the NBA as a below average athlete. His straight line speed combined with some run and jump plays could confuse some people though. Şengün can definitely get up when he has space and is moving in a straight line. When he is jumping he needs to jump off of two feet and have room though. He struggles to get up in traffic and off one foot. Some time to load up to jump is usually needed. Jumping from a standstill and his second jump are rather poor.
Şengün is rather slow when moving in short spaces. His change of direction isn’t great. When he is moving backwards, which is usually on defense, he can struggle to make up ground. Jumping while he is moving backwards is poor. His deceleration is really good for someone of his size.
Şengün is quite effective finishing around the rim. He has always been a strong post player but this year Şengün has really showed his improvement by dominating the Turkish Super League. When Şengün is finishing around the rim it usually comes from three different playtypes: post ups, as a roller or on putbacks. It is pretty obvious that Şengün plays to his strengths when scoring the ball. He takes advantage of his main physical gift which is his strength. As a finisher he is incredibly right hand dominant. Of his 427 non jumper shots, only 35 were with his left hand.
When Şengün is posting up he is strong enough to hold his man off and get a seal in the post. This is also the case when he is fronted and can receive a lob pass over the top of the defender. If he had more vertical pop from a standstill and in traffic then he would be able to take better advantage of these situations. After catching the ball Şengün likes to hold up the play and read the defense for a second. He does this to assess the defense and see if there is a double coming. When Şengün is making a move in the post he likes to spin and go to the baseline. He has really nice footwork in the post and can hold his pivot well. In the post he does a good job of using back to feel for a defender, putting weight on them and then spinning off them with his shoulder. As a finisher he definitely favours his right hand in the post. Şengün has some nice body feints and fakes but most of the time they are to set up his defender and get back to his right hand. Doubles do get sent at him when he goes to his spin and he obviously can’t see them and ends in trouble. His touch looks better on his right compared to his left where he can tend to use two hands to finish. May use his right hand on the left to finish.
Out of pick and roll situations Şengün prefers to slip screens which he dives to the rim off of, often looking for lobs. When he is trying to make contact on a screen it doesn’t always happen due to him being lazy sometimes as well as defenders literally jumping out of the way. A lot of his screens could be called as moving screens. He can struggle to roll to the rim sometimes after making contact. Once Şengün is rolling to the rim he impresses as a straight line run and jump athlete. Usually needs to jump off two feet and have clear space to get up though, really struggles to elevated in traffic and off one foot. When someone rotates over while he is rolling he has shown the ability to shoot a little floater or pull up for a short jumper but he prefers to put his body in to them and spin to finish on his right.
Something that I will discuss in more detail is Şengün’s ability as an offensive rebounder but it is one of his main ways of scoring so definitely worth talking about here. Şengün does a good job of anticipating shots early and will get himself in early position for offensive rebounds. Using his strength he can box out and hold off guys while he waits for rebounds. As he is rather limited vertically and especially so when in traffic while battling for rebounds he needs to hold off the defender to get the ball. This often results in him tipping the ball to himself or back in. He generally has good hands to do this. The touch looks good when he is tipping the ball. In situations when someone doesn’t box him out and he gets a good read on the rebound he can get up for some putback dunks. These usually depend on the defense to do a poor job boxing out but it is nice to see the motor and anticipation for the ball.
At the moment, Şengün’s shooting is rather limited. He isn’t a very good shooter but doesn’t take many. Most of his attempts come off the catch but he has shown some flashes of shots off the dribble. For Turkey earlier this year he made an off the dribble step back three. In general, I believe in him as a shooter to an extent. The touch appears to be pretty good but he will need to work on his form. To be fair to him a decent number of his attempts were last second attempts. When it comes to where the ball lands on the basket it is a small sample but a lot of his shots miss on the outside of the rim with little consistency as to missing front, back, left or right. It will likely take him time if he is ever to be a threat from three in the NBA.
Below is the clip of Şengün making the step back three:
Şengün’s form is better in his upper body than in his lower body. He has a two motion shot where he brings the ball up rather slow and then quickly flicks it once it is just above his forehead. He often doesn’t hold his follow through and tends to push his left hand, which is his guide hand, towards his right hand after releasing the ball. The lower body on Şengün’s shot doesn’t look good at all. He usually starts off with his foot too close together and his right foot clearly further forward than his left foot. Again, relating to how slow he brings the ball up his footwork to get in to a shot through a 1-2 or a hop is slow. Combining this with his general reluctance to shoot and poor shooting ability means he generally relies on open threes. His knees bend slightly inwards but this is only minor and not something I’d be worried about. There is very little elevation which isn’t a huge concern for a big but when he does jump he splits his legs even more so his right foot goes even further forward and his left foot goes backwards.
There are some typical indicators to look for when it comes to shooting from deep translating or developing in the NBA. Some that I like to rely on are that are relevant for Şengün are shot difficulty, touch and free throw percentage. In the 2018/19 season Şengün shot 60/100 free throws (60%). During the 2019/20 season he shot 38/62 free throws (61.3%). This past season Şengün improved greatly to shoot 182/232 on free throws (78.4%). Improvement is nice to see and the large number from this season is extremely promising given what other big men in the NBA shoot from the free throw line.
The other two indicators which are shot difficulty and touch aren’t amazing for Şengün but still offer some upside. The majority of his shots are catch and shoot shots with a few off the dribble shots here and there. This is pretty normal for a big man but what is somewhat promising is that he takes shots from a few feet behind the arc. The FIBA line is admittedly closer than the NBA line but it is good to see him attempting NBA range threes. As far as touch goes, on his right hand, which he favours, his touch appears to be pretty good but definitely not elite.
Şengün’s handle is rather limited at the moment. He has a basic handle but he can use it at times when he is grabbing a rebounding and pushing in transition or when he is operating dribble handoffs. On the perimeter, he has shown some flashes of attacking the rim off the dribble. Most of the time this will come from him facing up in the mid post but he can handle from outside the three point line in 5-out situations. Şengün uses his body well to protect the ball. This usually means he will use a spin but has flashed a few dribble moves like a between the legs, a basic crossover or an in and out on his right. When Şengün does pull of a dribble move he has shown some hip flexibility and bends over instead of being upright.
Şengün has a lot of potential as a playmaker. He has shown an ability to pass the ball out of many different situations such as in the post, as a roll man or on the perimeter as a high man or in dribble handoffs. These passes are not just simple passes, he often deceives the defense with his passes. Şengün has the ability to look off defenders with his head and eyes before making a pass. As well as having the ability to deceive, Şengün can throw some difficult passes. He likes to get fancy passing out of the post which can make for highlight reel passes. On the whole, his processing speed is rather good but definitely benefits when he gets a chance to read and assess the defense.
Defenders are well aware of the threat Şengün poses as a scorer in the post. This is why he will catch the ball in the paint and hold the ball out in one hand while he waits a second. This brief moment not only gives him a chance to read the defense but see where help is coming from. Usually he is good at finding the open man but he has struggled at times with doubles and trying to pass over them. He also has problems when teams double him after he has turned his back, usually to spin. I think this would only be worse in the NBA – if they even need to double him – where the athletes are bigger, longer, smarter and faster. Şengün likes to get flashy out of the post and knows where his teammates are. When his teammates are in motion he makes better passes and is better at passing to cutters rather than shooters. He often throws behind the back, wrap around, and drop off passes. While he does score a lot out of the post he definitely isn’t selfish and is willing to give the ball up.
From the perimeter Şengün is useful being the high man and passing to cutters. He can throw some real quick overhead passes to teammates in the post. When he has teammates cutting backdoor he is quite good at threading the needle with bounce passes. His frame on the perimeter is useful to screen for shooters coming off him. He has shown some ability to fake handoffs and put himself in the post or attack the rim. With the passing ability he shows from the perimeter, Şengün can stretch the defense out as they need to respect his passing or he will pick them apart. There have been times when his passes have just been asking too much of teammates. I don’t mind these turnovers because they show creativity from a young player on the perimeter and show that he is getting the chances to learn. The turnovers I don’t like to see are when he is anticipating a player being open from a play run so he throws the pass and gets it picked off.
I think Şengün’s processing speed is at its fastest out of the short roll; he does a good job of quickly reading the defense. I like the playmaking instincts that he shows when defenders eyes are on him as he knows where to look in order to deceive defenders and find cutting teammates. This is vital due to the importance of short roll playmaking. Once again, he is better at passing to cutters compared to shooters but still good at finding shooters. Şengün naturally draws a lot of attention with his size rolling to the rim. For someone of his size, he is able to stop really quickly to avoid charges. His body control is impressive when rolling to the rim and he has shown that he can hit the corners with some jump passes. The sample of Şengün as a short roll playmaker is rather small but this is something I would like to see more of in the NBA. If he is to reach his potential being able to pass as a roll man would really help him.
Below are some of the passes that Şengün makes and then below that are some of the turnovers he makes:
Şengün’s defense is likely to be a big problem for him in the NBA. He is a solid shot blocker but he really struggles to defend in space and in pick and rolls. He gambles a lot both on and off the ball. This is part of the reason why he’s put up 1.44 steals and 1.68 blocks in 28.6 minutes per game. Overall his defensive IQ isn’t the best as he makes some really questionable decisions and appears lost at times but he does show some great defensive principles sometimes as well. When you combine this with his lack of athleticism and length it makes for a rather bleak defensive outlook.
On the ball defensively Şengün is below average and undersized in the post. He uses his strength rather well and can bang with other bigs for a couple of dribbles. He will often flop and draw charges on post players. If an opposing player does get to take a decent number of dribbles against him they can usually get a decent look. Şengün’s lack of length really hurts him here as many bigs can just shoot over him.
Off the ball defensive is also not a strength for Şengün. He does have some good moments but there are a lot of bad moments. He is constantly gambling in passing lanes; his close outs are really poor, he will just sprint at or lunge at a guy. Other times, he will just close out really lazily and let them shoot. The redeeming factor for Şengün’s off ball defense is that he is decent protecting the rim. His timing is nice when contesting shots and I like his use of verticality at the rim. When he is rotating to protect the rim his patience on jumping for fakes is pretty good. After he makes a block he will usually leak out.
On the perimeter Şengün can really be attacked. One thing that he does do really well on the perimeter is turn his body to try and get the ball handler to go the way that he wants. It is clear he wants them to drive in the direction he wants and will give them far too much room which allows them to shoot and he can’t contest the shot well enough. He frequently stands on the perimeter with his hands down or at his side. It is strange because he is always gambling so he will have his hands down and then lunge for the ball. When he does get the ball handler to drive the way he wants he is alright and can contest some shots at the rim. However, he suffers from being too upright and can get blown by. His hip flips are slow and he tends to get blown by any time the ball handler changes direction. If ball handlers attack his lead leg defensively he has problems. There is an avenue for success in the NBA if he can send players the way he wants and somewhat stick with them. He is great at decelerating so this could help him when contesting pull up jump shots.
If you go at Şengün in the pick and roll you should be able to get a good look most of the time. He will mostly want to play drop coverage so pull up shooters in the NBA should feast against him. He often finds himself in no man’s land in pick and roll coverage with a lack of awareness that his man is going to set a screen. This results in the play being over before it even starts. Certainly not someone you want defending 2 on 1s. Like I said before with his hands being by his side on the perimeter his arms and hands aren’t active enough for someone defending in pick and rolls. When he does play up he struggles to get back to the roll man. His athletic limitations are evident when backtracking and he can’t elevate. Usually he won’t hedge on a pick and roll and I don’t think this is something he will be able to do at the NBA given his poor footspeed and recovery ability.
Şengün is a strong rebounder on both the offensive and defensive end. On the season he’s averaging 3.82 offensive rebounds and 5.32 defensive rebounds, good for 9.15 total rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game. The motor he shows to box out and then rebound is nice to see. After a rebound he is likely to look up the floor but most of the time opts to quickly pass the ball off to a guard who can ignite the fastbreak.
On the offensive end he has a high motor when it comes to offensive rebounding. Usually he gets himself in position early by anticipating a teammate taking a shot or where a miss is going. He will then get an early boxout and use his strength to hold off defenders. Şengün isn’t great at jumping in traffic which means he will often hold off a defender and then grab the ball instead of just trying to go get it. His hands are quite good when he is tipping rebounds around to himself. There are situations when defenders don’t box him out and this is when he is most likely to get a putback dunk. Şengün shows nice anticipation and motor in these situations to find openings and crash the glass.
On the defensive end Şengün is great at boxing out his man and then grabbing rebounds. He has a natural instinct to box someone out when a shot goes up. The hustle he shows to get in to a position to box out is impressive. Like I’ve repeated many times before he struggles to jump vertically when he doesn’t get a chance to load up so the box out is very important for him to rebound. His hands are great when he is rebounding. Şengün will pull the ball in to his body in order to protect it. The majority of the defensive rebounds that he gets are uncontested though and come from where he is standing defensively. If he isn’t in position he does like to leak out at times.
Being realistic for Şengün’s floor it is likely one of not an NBA player but this is a rather unfair statement as it can be said about most prospects. Given that there is a chance he is taken in the lottery I would say it is likely he gets a few chances in the NBA if he doesn’t work out at first. However, there are scenarios where his game just does not translate at all and he doesn’t develop in the way he would need to. An undersized post up player and rebounder isn’t exactly a sought after offensive archetype. There is a possibility that playmaking is too much of an ask of him at the NBA level. Then there is the defense which is clearly not at an NBA level at the moment. If there are no considerable athletic improvements and his other skills don’t develop then he wouldn’t be an NBA player. This situation where none of his skills translate even to an extent is obviously very unlikely but must be considered.
Şengün’s ceiling would make him look like a different player than he is right now. Even if he does reach his ceiling his post game would have to be near elite to be a major part of his game. This means that other areas of his game will develop to a great extent. Situations where he reaches his ceiling rely on his development as a shooter to allow him to be a better threat from the perimeter. His playmaking will be heavily relied upon, especially as a short roll playmaker but this is a big ask to do in the NBA even if he is good at it now. You would like to use him as a dribble handoff hub and make the most of his playmaking to make decisions with shooters coming off him and cutters moving around him. His frame would make him a threat as a screener and his physical ability would be useful to get downhill and attack the rim. Athletically he would need to make improvements to keep him on the floor defensively as he will always be undersized for a true center. It is incredibly unlikely that Şengün reaches this ceiling but it is interesting to think of situations where he develops with some of these things but not others.
Alperen Şengün is an incredibly talented player. He is a physical force at his size in the Turkish Super League while still having a nice level of skill. He will be one of the youngest players in the 2021 draft so there can definitely be some development to his body and game. As someone who mainly scores from the post or on offensive rebounds Şengün can be considered undersized and not very long. His play-style is obviously rather problematic in the modern NBA but there are avenues for him to rebrand and have success. I personally wouldn’t be interested in drafting Şengün until towards late in the first round and not near the lottery like many mainstream mock drafts suggest. If he finds a way to not be totally unplayable on defense, I think his skill level and physical tools could allow him to be an interesting piece off the bench depending on matchups.