Rockets coach Stephen Silas not comfortable with Christian Wood, Alperen Sengun lineups

·3 min read
Rockets coach Stephen Silas not comfortable with Christian Wood, Alperen Sengun lineups

In Tuesday’s 134-104 blowout loss (box score) to the San Antonio Spurs at home, rookie big man Alperen Sengun was one of the lone bright spots for the Houston Rockets with 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots. He still played under half the game.

The minutes distribution for the Rockets was clean. Starting center Christian Wood played just over 24 minutes and had 15 points and 7 rebounds, while Sengun played the rest. They never played together.

In postgame comments, when asked if Houston had considered playing the two big men together, head coach Stephen Silas suggested that he did not consider it an option after a trial run in December.

“It’s a tough position for (Sengun) because he’s playing behind one of our better players in Christian, and I don’t feel comfortable at this point playing Christian and Al-P together. The numbers, the eye test have shown that those two together hasn’t been that great.”

The dual-big pairing has not been used since Sengun returned from an ankle injury in mid-January following a two-week absence.

The timing of the comments is interesting, since the NBA’s trade deadline for the 2021-22 season is just over two weeks away on Thursday, Feb. 10. Though the Rockets (14-34) are clearly in a rebuilding scenario, Wood is young enough at 26 years old to still potentially be a part of their future, and he is under contract for next season, as well.

Thus, considering that Wood remains Houston’s best player, statistically, there’s a clear case for the Rockets to keep him around — and recent reports have indicated that they are becoming likely to do so.

Yet, at 19 years old, Sengun is one of the most important building blocks in the organization. The No. 16 overall pick from the first round of the 2021 NBA draft has been a revelation in limited playing time, and with Wood justifiably averaging more than 30 minutes, that limits Sengun to a maximum of 18 minutes (on average) as long as the two are on the same roster — as long as Silas is unwilling to use them together.

In the big picture, given that the 2021-22 season is primarily about development for one of the NBA’s youngest teams, that’s not an ideal minutes total for one of their most promising prospects.

That certainly doesn’t guarantee a roster move, but it’s a storyline worth monitoring as the Feb. 10 trade deadline nears.

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