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HomeBasketball TodayRockets Blast off with Crucial Next Moves Following Alperen Sengun Injury Scare

Rockets Blast off with Crucial Next Moves Following Alperen Sengun Injury Scare


While he avoided a major injury, the Rockets will still be without Alperen Sengun for the foreseeable future.

Just when the Houston Rockets seemingly fell back into form, center and rising star Alperen Sengun fell to the floor towards the final minutes of the team’s matchup vs. the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. From the footage, Sengun looked to be holding his right knee and could not walk.

He had to be wheelchaired off the court, looking extremely distraught, fearing the worst. While the Rockets inevitably won this game, the chance of losing Sengun is a massive blow to the starting lineup.

On Monday, the Turkish center had an MRI to determine what the damage was on his leg. Fans and the team were restless to hear the verdict on his injury.

A huge break for the Rockets

The 21-year old center suffered a severely sprained ankle and a bone bruise on his knee, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. This could have been worse, maybe an ACL tear.

Overall he dodged a major bullet. What appeared to be a long-term injury recovery, Sengun will definitely be back at the start of training camp for the 2024-2025 NBA season.

The center return returning before the end of this season is highly unlikely. “Severe” ankle sprains likely translate to a Grade 2 sprain, which typically indicates a return time of 4-6 weeks. This goes past the last game of the Rockets’ season, which is April 14th.

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Looking at this verdict long term, this is obviously huge news for the Rockets. Likely losing Sengun with a month left in the season arguably consists of an early curtain call, but the fact that he avoids surgery gives more hope and confidence for his upcoming fourth NBA season.

While the news surrounding his injury doesn’t officially rule him out, it’s better that head coach Ime Udoka sits Sengun for the rest of the season in preparation for next year.

Sengun has been a massive piece for the team is his third year, averaging 21.1 points with 9.3 rebounds and five assists in, a prime candidate of the NBA’s Most Improved Player. Although the injury does prevent this from becoming a possibility, the team’s been on a recent tear as of late, winning four of the last five games.

An easy schedule without Sengun

Playing without Houston’s rising star creates a massive hole in their depth. Nevertheless, the Rockets face one of the easiest remaining schedules in the NBA.

Aside from the Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves, the Rockets final stretch will be against teams currently at the eighth seed or lower in both the Eastern and Western Conference. With the possibility of Sengun being out for a period of time, the chance of Houston sneaking into the play-in is still possible to achieve.

Supporting cast needs to step up

Houston Rockets center Alperen Sengun (28) controls the ball as San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) defends during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sengun’s absence will require more of the load from Jalen Green, Fred VanVleet, Jabari Smith Jr., and Dillon Brooks. Green, in particular, has a grand opportunity to salvage most of his unproductive season. In his last five games, he’s steadily improved his scoring and overall efficiency, averaging 23.6 points on close to 49% efficiency.

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While his 32.6% from deep in this stretch isn’t up to snuff, Green is consistently getting to the basket more often with sheer aggression of acrobatic moves. On shots less than 10 feet, the 21-year old has a 72.5% field goal. As he’s been in offseason trade talks throughout the majority of his struggles, a redemption month down the stretch could change this perception.

Sengun off the floor will provide more opportunities for Smith to get himself going as well. The former Auburn product struggled in the month of February, averaging just 13.4 points on 38.6% efficiency and twelve points on 40.8% efficiency so far in March. Backup center Jock Landale taking most of the minutes left by Sengun will free up more spacing for Smith to score more on catch-and-shoot opportunities and working in the post.

Can Jock Landale capitalize on this to stay on the Rockets?

Speaking of Landale, the Australian center’s endured a litany of criticism in his first season wearing a Rockets uniform. For the most part, the signing has been a blessing and a curse. Yes, he’s been awful, but his contract is non-guaranteed each year.

Tons of Rockets fans were noticeably eager for general manager Rafael Stone to use him as a trade piece prior to the deadline, but it never came to fruition. Landale will stay in the rotation for the time being, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

With the likely increased minutes from Sengun’s injury, it’ll give Landale a chance to also redeem himself from his own struggles. With a 40% efficiency along with 2.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, it’s been a season to forget for the Rockets backup center.

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However, the 28-year old posted decent backup minutes as lot late with 17 minutes, nine points on 3-of-4 shooting and a block on Sunday and 13 minutes scoring five points on 2-of-4 shooting with a +10 plus minus on Friday.

Landale’s production as of late shows promise, with the possibility that he may be turning a corner. While he is nowhere near the talent of Sengun, his recent performances hint at potential improvement, presenting an opportunity to secure his place on the team for next season.

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About the Author

Jeremy Gretzer joins ClutchPoints with a unique blend of experience in both the performing arts and sports journalism. A Houston native, Jeremy is happy to receive the opportunity as a beat reporter for ClutchPoints covering the Rockets. During his tenure at Back Sports Page, he honed his skills in sports writing, social media, and reporting, gaining valuable experience and having the opportunity to interact with notable figures from the NBA during media day, various charity, and pro camps events. His approach is analytical yet accessible, ensuring dedicated fans and casual readers alike can appreciate his insights.


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