Southwest Notes: Sengun, Mavs, LaVine, Zion, More

Alperen Sengun‘s growing importance to the Rockets has been on display during the first few weeks of the 2023/24 season, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required).

Sengun has averaged 19.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in 31.4 minutes per game while making 60.0% of his field goal tries through nine contests. Houston has a +10.7 net rating when the young center is on the court, compared to -5.1 when he sits. Sengun will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in the summer of 2024 and appears to be steadily increasing his value with his strong play in the middle for the Rockets.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Although the Mavericks have been linked to Zach LaVine in the past, a league source tells Marc Stein (Substack link) that Dallas is unlikely to pursue a trade for the Bulls guard at this time.
  • Rookie forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper believes he’s ready for an increased role if the Mavericks decide to lean on him a little more with Maxi Kleber sidelined, he tells Noah Weber of The Smoking Cuban. “I’ve put in the work. A lot of hours behind the scenes that nobody has seen,” Prosper said. “… Whatever my opportunity is, I’m going to come in and do what my role is; impact the game defensively, rebound, and knock down open shots. … I feel like I fit great [next to Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving]. Being a strong physical wing that can come in and help them defensively and on offense be able to knock down shots, cut, get to the rim, get fouled. I feel like I play great off of those two.”
  • After Zion Williamson referred earlier this week to taking a “back seat” in the Pelicans‘ new offense and doing his best “to buy in,” Christian Clark of notes that the stats don’t back up Williamson’s assertion — his usage rate is a career-high 30.6% and he’s taking more shots per 36 minutes than he has since his rookie year. Williamson’s remarks hint at bigger problems that he and the Pelicans will need to solve, opines Will Guillory of The Athletic.
  • Top Pelicans assistant James Borrego assumed head coaching duties on Tuesday vs. Dallas with Willie Green unavailable due to a non-COVID illness (Twitter link). Borrego earned a victory in his first game as head coach since being let go by Charlotte in 2022.
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