San Antonio Spurs: Top 5 2021 first-round draft targets

Charles Bassey (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
Charles Bassey (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /
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San Antonio Spurs Draft Prospect 2: Alperen Sengun (Besiktas J.K.)

I must admit that I was a big skeptic of Alperen Sengun only a couple of months ago despite the fact that he made my list of dark-horse draft candidates for the San Antonio Spurs. Since then, he’s become one of my favorite players in the entire draft class.

Upon first glance of Alperen Sengun, he may appear as a more or less rudimentary big man that is unathletic and lives in the post. While he is definitely the least athletic prospect on this list, limiting him to that kind of label would be a huge mistake for teams to make in the upcoming draft.

This was initially a concern of mine as well with Sengun, but after watching him play more and more, it has become abundantly clear that his lack of athleticism is overblown and that it may not even matter in the first place.

Sengun currently plays with Besiktas of the Turkish Super League (BSL), and through 26 games, has averaged 19.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. To see an 18-year-old having this kind of production in the Turkish Super League is incredibly uncommon, and he is well-deserving of more praise than he’s getting.

Outside of Liga ACB, the Turkish Super League is among the most challenging, if not the most challenging league in all of European basketball, and an 18-year-old is handily outplaying grown men on the court in more ways than one.

Sengun may just be the most highly skilled player on this list (perhaps besides the first pick on this list), and that is by far his biggest appeal. He is very fundamentally sound, particularly on the offensive end of the floor. He has impeccable footwork, can dish out some of the most impressive passes out of all the big men in his draft class, shoots nearly 79 percent from the free-throw line on about seven attempts per game, and seems to be decently comfortable with putting the ball on the floor in a variety of situations.

At the time of the writing of this article, he is in second place in total points, rebounds, and blocks out of all players in the entire Turkish Super League and stands a very good chance of winning league MVP. If that hasn’t convinced you, he is also currently leading the league in player efficiency rating at 35.8 and will be one of the youngest players entering the draft.

With all of these positives in mind, Sengun does come with some potential risks. He is reportedly standing at 6-10 with a supposed wingspan of about 7’0.5″, which for defending NBA centers, could be a bit undersized. Simultaneously, he may not be mobile enough to adequately defend the one through four positions in the NBA.

While Sengun has several offensive tools that could help to translate his game to the NBA, he would also need to develop a more reliable jump shot. However, his free throw efficiency is a good indicator that Chip Engelland would have something good to work with.

At worst, Sengun will provide the Spurs with some much-needed rebounding on both sides of the floor and an extra dose of playmaking ability on offense. At best, he could be the Spurs’ version of Domantas Sabonis with greater defensive upside. If the Spurs end up in the lottery, it would not surprise me in the least to hear Alperen Sengun’s name called on draft night.

Next: Player #1