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Once Joel Embiid’s teacher, Ime Udoka using similar lessons with Alperen Sengun in Houston

When Ime Udoka was an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2019-20 season, Joel Embiid was already an NBA All-Star. But he wasn’t yet the MVP force that he is today, as shown in Monday’s dominant win over Alperen Sengun and the Houston Rockets.

Part of the development curve for a younger Embiid and that generation’s Sixers involved shaking off years of questionable habits developed during the so-called “Process” seasons.

Now head coach of the Rockets, Udoka sees parallels between the rise of Embiid last decade and what he’s now attempting to do with Sengun — who is increasingly drawing All-Star consideration.

On Monday, here’s what Udoka told reporters in Philadelphia:

It’s rare in this day and age, with actual low-post scorers. These are two of the best in the game right now. With Alperen, I’m imparting some of the same wisdom, things I talked to Joel about, which is professionalism, the approach.

When you’ve had that losing early on, breaking those bad habits is something I’m constantly on him about. Skill level and talent, he [Sengun] wants to be coached hard and wants to be held accountable.

He’s probably one of the guys I’m hardest on [on the Rockets], but you see the talent and the potential. We want to try and expedite that process and get over the losing, and get to the winning habits.

I think he’s taken a huge jump this year. The skill level is there, the scoring ability, the passing, the IQ. The sky is the limit.

As the Rockets (19-20) near the midpoint of the 2023-24 season, they’ve already won nearly as many games as they did in Sengun’s first two NBA seasons — when they finished 20-62 and 22-60.

While the product is far from perfect, as evidenced by Monday’s loss, the hope is that an increasingly competitive environment will put Sengun in a better position to learn from the occasional mistakes.

Sengun finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 blocks in Monday’s loss to Embiid (41 points, 10 rebounds) and the Sixers.

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire