Legendary big man Nikola Jokic, a two-time MVP and an NBA champion with the 2022-23 Denver Nuggets, has long made it clear that he believes the Houston Rockets should run more offense through Alperen Sengun. The European centers have often shared an affinity for each other, and the respect clearly goes both ways.
On Sunday, the Rockets got the best of Jokic and the Nuggets, with Sengun going for 23 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks on 9-of-18 shooting (50.0%). Jokic had better numbers with 36 points, 21 rebounds, and 11 assists, but the 21-year-old Turkey native held his own and won the game while dueling an all-time great.
In postgame comments, Jokic made it clear that he was happy for the Rockets and Sengun, who is having more offense run through him this season under the guidance of new head coach Ime Udoka.
Jokic said, via Jackson Gatlin of Locked on Rockets:
I think it is a good thing that they are playing a little bit more through him. I think that is going to benefit the whole organization. He is a guy who is not selfish. He wants to play for the team and he wants to pass. The whole team is going to move when the ball is in his hands. He played really good today.
Sengun and the Rockets (6-3), who have won six straight games, hope to keep their momentum rolling when they resume regular-season play on Friday in Los Angeles. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. Central.
Nikola Jokic on Alperen Sengun's play:
"I think it is a good thing that they are playing a little bit more through him. I think that is going to benefit the whole organization. He is a guy who is not selfish. He wants to play for the team and he wants to pass. The whole team is… pic.twitter.com/zRPsdULAOP
— Jackson Gatlin (@JTGatlin) November 13, 2023