With the No. 2 pick of the NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Chet Holmgren.
Holmgren is a 7-foot-1, 195-pound “big man” with a 7-foot-6 wingspan and limitless potential on the court. Will his game translate to the NBA? That’s left to be determined.
As it’s been well-documented, Chet’s frail frame will struggle against opposing bigs like Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and other upper-tier big men on both ends of the floor.
But, since he’s a Thunder now, let’s take the optimistic approach.
He could be the perfect teammate for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey because he honestly matches what this team is trying to do. He seems to just fit on the Thunder, which is why I remain a little skeptical. I believe the Thunder need a big man who contrasts his teammates. A player who’s different, giving OKC a bit of a different edge.
Nevertheless, here are Chet’s strengths.
He relishes contact, an attribute that isn’t as common as it should be in the NBA among big men. You’d think post players would take advantage of bigger than most other defenders, but that’s become less common in the last generation of hoopers. Holmgren may be a rail, but he possesses the want to be physical in the paint, which will count for something, giving OKC something to look forward to long-term.
He’s good on both ends of the floor, and that’s on par with the rest of OKC’s core. Head coach Mark Daigneault is more of a defensive-minded coach than anything and would rather his team be a juggernaut defense that can also score the ball at a respectable clip. That personifies Holmgren, who averaged a boisterous 3.7 blocks per game in his freshman season with Gonzaga.
He’s stronger than he looks or he may be crafty with his physicality. His frame and his deceptive strength resemble former Thunder Kevin Durant, especially early in the year. His ability to (for a lack of better words) elbow his way around defenders, and use his length to his advantage will benefit him while he develops an NBA body.
He’s mobile, and that’s perfect for the fast-paced Thunder offense that he’ll be a part of. Think back in time. There were moments when Kendrick Perkins struggled to keep up with Russell Westbrook, Durant, and Co. The same goes for Steven Adams, who often was a step or two behind Westbrook and the Thunder offense. Holmgren won’t have those problems, and his mobility will help him with his perimeter defense if he has to pop out and guard guys smaller than him.
Chet can shoot the ball for someone who plays the center position. In college, he was a 39.0% 3-point shooter, and obviously, with increased spacing, more repetitions, and practice, that 3-point percentage will increase, putting him in the lethal range.
Holmgren is a spectacular rebounder, which will benefit OKC, putting them towards the top of the NBA when talking about team rebounds, where they ranked sixth last season. Holmgren averaged 9.9 rebounds per game with Gonzaga last season to pair with his 14.1 points per game.
Not to mention, Holmgren’s passing is elite, especially for someone as young as he is.
Let’s see how this turns out.