The Houston Rockets remain in the Western Conference cellar at 5–15 following Monday’s loss to the Nuggets , but Denver’s leading man still issued some high praise for one of Houston’s young pieces after the game.
Nuggets center and two-time MVP Nikola Jokić noted he was impressed by second-year big man Alperen Şengün , who tallied 18 points and seven rebounds in just over 23 minutes. Jokić highlighted Şengün’s potential as an offensive fulcrum, one who could help Houston work through its “stagnant” offense.
“I think [Şengün is] really talented. Maybe this is going to sound weird, but I think they need to play a little bit more through him,” Jokić told the media postgame. “Sometimes they look a little bit more stagnant … with all their threes.
“This guy has the talent. He can pass the ball, he can post up, he has the touch around the rim. You can see some different moves that he's made.”
— FIBA Twitter
The praise from Jokić in particular is likely meaningful to Houston’s young center. Şengün said earlier in 2022 he views Jokić as his “idol,” and someone he models his game after. And while Şengün is unlikely to ever hoist the MVP trophy, his early growth and ability to pass out of the post is notably similar to Jokić. A future All-Star appearance is in no way out of the question for the player Houston teammates call “Baby Joker.”
The real Joker got the best of Houston on Monday night. Jokić dazzled in the third quarter with 16 points on 7-of-7 from the field, and he cruised to a casual 32-point, 12-rebound, eight-assist effort in a 129-113 blowout victory. Perhaps it will be Şengün and the Rockets delivering the blowout to an undermanned young squad at some point in the 2020s.
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