Every team is on the lookout for the next Nikola Jokic—a severely underrated prospect who shifts the future of a franchise. Jokic, who’s the MVP frontrunner, fell to the No. 41 overall pick back in 2014 with questions swirling about his defensive and mobility and teams around the league are vigilantly working not to miss the next Jokic in the draft, as Mike Schmitz of ESPN.com writes.
Alperen Sengun, an 18-year-old big man out of Turkey, is angling to be that guy.
“I watch Jokic, and I really want to play in the same style that he has,” Sengun told Schmitz through a translator after a practice in Istanbul. “Fadeaway, post moves. Generally, I study him. Some people say it’s similar to Jokic’s moves.”
Sengun projects to be a lottery pick but he didn’t always have the same hype surrounding his name. Before he lit the Turkish League up for Beskitas this past season, the 6-foot-9 big man was considered a bit overweight and certainly overlooked. However, his improvement during his lone year in Turkey has impressed evaluators.
“I have a more athletic body right now,” Sengun said after watching a clip of himself finishing an in-game 360 dunk he wouldn’t have even fathomed trying years ago. “That’s why I have to try [to dunk], and I try everything.”
Scouting during the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for NBA teams, though Sengun’s play has clearly placed him among the top international prospects on many draft boards. Whether or not he becomes the next Jokic remains to be seen, however, with organizations not wanting to make the same mistake twice, Sengun likely won’t have to wait so long to hear his name called this summer.