The Toronto Raptors own the seventh-best odds at landing the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, meaning they don’t exactly have the best shot at drafting Oklahoma State point guard Cade Cunningham as their centerpiece. They could end up with a new starting center, however, as an international prospect like Turkish big Alperen Sengun looks like an ideal fit.
Sengun has spent the last season with Turkish giants Besiktas, proving that he is one of the best players in the league despite the fact he is just 18 years old. A genuinely jaw-dropping offensive big man considering his age, some MVP talent evaluators have compared him to expected MVP Nikola Jokic.
Sengun could take advantage of both the drop-off in talent after the Top 5 projected players and the lack of a definitive No. 2 center behind Evan Mobley to shoot up draft boards. His style of play could be of particular interest to Toronto.
The Athletic’s Eric Koreen sat down with Sam Vecenie (subscription required) to go through Toronto’s options at No. 7. While Vecenie did mention Texas athlete Kai Jones and Real Madrid’s Usman Garuba as options should they miss out on Cunningham or Mobley, he mentioned Sengun as the best of that trio due to his offensive potential.
Toronto Raptors draft: Alperen Sengun Strengths
Sengun averaged 19.2 points and 9.4 rebounds in one of the best leagues in the world at the age of 18. Considering players his age often score in the single digits per game amid a lack of playing time, those numbers prove that around the basket, he has an array of moves that help him get easy shots.
A solid passer with a feather-like touch around the basket, Sengun should be able to come in and score in the double-digits if given enough minutes. His experience playing against grown men for the last few years could make his transition to the pros easier than playing against high school players or G Leaguers.
Toronto Raptors draft: Alperen Sengun Weaknesses
Sengun is not going to be a good defensive player in the NBA, and he may never reach a state where he’s an above-average player in the pros. With a lack of solid athletic ability, Sengun will find it difficult to match up against some of the premium athletes on the interior.
A poor 3-point shooter at the moment, Sengun’s ability to score in the paint is undercut by the fact that his effectiveness wanes the further away he gets from the basket. Sengun’s face-up game, which will be integral to his success if he ends up with Toronto, is behind some of the other top bigs in this class
How would Alperen Sengun fit on the Toronto Raptors?
Sengun is not going to help Toronto’s defensive deficiencies, and he might actually be detrimental to them, but he has enough offensive potential to warrant the development cost. He might not even have to spend time with 905, as he could start his career as a bench big before taking over as the starter.
Sengun will need to work on becoming a better athlete and more explosive, as doing so will make him a better defender and more skilled offensive player. If he checks that box, Sengun could be a starter in Toronto for a decade.