After missing last season, Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren classifies as a rookie this year, building up the excitement and outright optimism surrounding the Thunder’s talented rookie class as the season get closer.
Between Holmgren, Cason Wallace, Keyontae Johnson, and 29-year-old Vasilije Micić, there’s a mountain of excitement budding behind these rookies. A question that sounds insane today but may unfold as reality soon is, of those four, how many will make an All-Rookie team?
Chet Holmgren has the second-best odds to win the Rookie of the Year award, so making either of the two All-Rookie teams should be a cinch for him. Where does that land Wallace, Micić, and Johnson?
Weirdly enough, OKC’s top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Wallace, has flown under the radar a bit. Entering the draft as one of the more athletic, defense-oriented guards in the Draft, Wallace will mesh perfectly with head coach Mark Daigneault’s defensive coaching style, just like Lu Dort did.
When talking about Micić, he’s a different case simply because he’s a rookie by technicality. After being drafted a near-decade ago in 2014, 52nd overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, he returned to Europe, where he had a decorated nine-year stretch where he won two Final Four MVPs, two Euro League championships, two scoring titles, and two All-Euro League First Team selections, to name a few of his key accomplishments.
Once word got out that he’d be joining the Thunder this season, finally moving from Europe, his name was instantly inserted as a dark horse in the Rookie of the Year odds. I believe that with his experience alone, playing highly-competitive professional basketball, will qualify him for an All-Rookie team, although he’ll be 30 on Jan. 13.
Keyontae Johnson is the most talented rookie on OKC’s team and potentially the most athletic on the squad. He put his explosiveness on display during Summer League in Las Vegas, and I think he’ll be a tremendous asset for OKC in the immediate future.
However, for Johnson, he’s in a situation where I don’t believe he’ll get the same opportunities as the other rookies, preventing him from receiving All-Rookie honors.
Below is my early prediction for the All-Rookie teams.
All-Rookie First Team
Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs
Scoot Henderson, Portland Trail Blazers
Amen Thomson, Houston Rockets
Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City Thunder
Bilal Coulibaly, Indiana Pacers
All-Rookie Second Team
Cason Wallace, Oklahoma City Thunder
Dereck Lively II, Dallas Mavericks
Vasilije Micić, Oklahoma CIty Thunder
Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets
Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons