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Shaquille O’Neal Compares Alperen Sengun to Hall of Famer

Feb 27, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Houston Rockets center Alperen Sengun (28) dribbles the ball down the court during the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

After recently deeming Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton the next face of the NBA, basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal is not done praising the young guys of the game–this time, it is Houston Rockets center Alperen Sengun. Last night on TNT, O’Neal compared Sengun to two-time champion and Basketball Hall of Famer Pau Gasol.

Gasol played in the NBA from 2001-2019. Most notably, the forward was a six-time All-Star and won two titles next to Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spain native joined the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2023.

The 21-year-old Sengun is having a career year so far this season. In his third season, Sengun is averaging 21.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists over 32.5 minutes per game. All these numbers are career bests for the Turkish native.

Shaquille O’Neal Compares Alperen Sengun to Hall of Famer

Other NBA Personalities Praise Sengun

Funny enough, O’Neal is not the only NBA player to liken Sengun to Gasol. Last year, Paul George, on his podcast named Podcast P with Paul George, compared Sengun to both the Gasol brothers and NBA legend Magic Johnson:

“I’d say the greatest part of his game is….his playmaking. At that size, at that position…his playmaking. I mean I’ve seen some flashiness where he [pretends to throw a behind-the-back pass]…on some Magic Johnson type of sh-t.

He can really hoop. He’s got a good touch, a good feel. He’s got playmaking, great vision. He’s gonna be the baby Joker.

I think he has the full, complete package at the center position.”

George didn’t stop there, as he continued to shower praise on Sengun.

“He’s got shades of Marc Gasol, he’s got shades of Pau Gasol. He’s got shades of Jokic.

He’s got shades of like the great bigs that can pass, that can shoot, that can playmake. He’s a super, super high IQ player. I love his game.”

Furthermore, in January, Detroit Pistons head coach Monty Williams said Sengun “might be the best post-up guy in the league now“:

“He might be the best post-up guy in the league now. It’s like Jokic, Embiid and him.”

Additionally, Houston Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon, who trained with Sengun, appears to be a fan of the big man:

“I think he plays all around,” Olajuwon said. “He moves. He drives on the floor. He plays between power forward and center. He shoots 3s. So he has adapted; he has adjusted his game to fit any style. He loves the post. If he gets a chance to post up, he finishes on both sides. And he shoots 3s, so he plays a complete game. He has good passing that he’s using at the top of the key to hand the ball over, and sometimes if his player overcommits, he drives. So he’s playing a very complete game that fits any style — it fits our era or this era. I think he finds a perfect balance between the old school and the new school.”

Is the Pau Gasol Comparison Too Soon?

There is no doubt Sengun is having a phenomenal season and has the tools to be a force in the league. At 22, he has gotten better every year. It seems like the sky is the limit for him. That said, Gasol is in the Hall of Fame for a reason. His longevity, impact, and accolades are all tough to match. However, it looks like Sengun is well on his way to making his mark on the league. Is it too soon to compare him to Gasol? Yes, but that does not mean he will never reach those heights. Only time will tell what is in store for the Rockets big man.


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