Report: Alperen Sengun could make Houston Rockets return during regular season

Peter Dewey
4 Min Read
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets big man Alperen Sengun reportedly could return to the team at some point during the 2023-24 regular season.

“It’s within the realm of possibility that Sengun could return during the regular season,” ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said. “When he got hurt – and obviously avoided a major injury – but it’s still a significant sprain of his ankle. So, we kind of assumed he’d be done for the season because they weren’t gonna have anything to play for.

“I was told there’s a very real chance that it could come down to late in the regular season and a, ‘Hey, does it make sense to bring him back?’ And obviously, the No. 1 thing is going to be, ‘Is he cleared, medically?’

“They’re not going to bring him back if they’re not playing for something, but they’re putting themselves in a position where they’ve got a chance to play for something.”

Sengun has missed Houston’s last six games with a Grade 3 ankle sprain, and it was previously reported that the former first-round pick was expected to miss the remainder of the season with the injury.

However, the Rockets have made a major run as of late, winning eight straight games and nine of their last 10 matchups to pull within a game of the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference.

At 35-35, the Rockets have a real chance to earn the final play-in tournament spot in the West, which would be a major leap for the team this season after ending up in the lottery in each of the three previous seasons.

The team certainly needs to be careful with Sengun, as it doesn’t want to cause a long-term issue by rushing him back, but the young big man would give the Rockets a massive boost down the stretch of the season – and in a play-in scenario – if he can suit up.

This season, the third-year center is averaging 21.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 53.7 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from beyond the arc. Sengun is posting career-highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals (1.2) per game.

Right now, Houston’s best chance to make the play-in is by catching the Golden State Warriors for the No. 10 seed. The Rockets are still 3.5 games back of the Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 9 seed, but Golden State – who has lost two games in a row – is just 36-34 on the season.

Unfortunately for the Rockets, the Warriors have the sixth-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA, according to Tankathon, while Houston has the 11th-toughest remaining schedule.

Still, it’s possible that the Rockets could make a run given their recent play and then welcome Sengun back into the lineup to make a final push.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.