Report: Chet Holmgren Either Instant DPOY Candidate Or Huge Flop

Chet Holmgren has played in two NBA Summer League games, which is a big enough sample to draw one of two conclusions: Chet Holmgren is already the best rim protector in the league, and Thunder opponents will draw 25% on the rim this season while struggling to keep him from splashing 45% of his threes on the other end; or, alternatively, Chet Holmgren is a twiggish waif-man physically incapable of even slightly impeding the movement of anyone over 210 pounds, and will therefore be ruthlessly exposed to NBA opposition. You will soon have the data, so you have to choose.

Tip: Championship

The Thunder played the Jazz on Tuesday at the Utah Summer League, winning by 21 thanks to point guard play from Josh Giddey, who is too good to be here, and a flawless night from Holmgren. The big man posted 23 points on a 4-for-6 three-point shot, seven boards and a Utah Summer League record six blocks, which, even in this section, we have to admit, is about the lowest statistical barrier in professional sports. . Holmgren spent his time in Gonzaga playing alongside several veterans, even sharing the frontcourt with Drew Timme. The Zags played few plays through Holmgren, and he had very little license to create himself, which left him playing as a connector on offense. He was quite capable as a secondary option, although the team structure was such that he didn’t have many opportunities to show what he could do with a live dribble.

Oklahoma City, still uncommitted to responsibilities like “winning basketball games,” will gladly let Holmgren do his thing. Against the Jazz, he only had nine shots, although more than half of them came off the rebound. He fired it comfortably from three, often creating space with his dribble, and he even snuck his way into a Dirk Nowitzki fadeaway. Perhaps most impressive of all, he was replaced by a smaller, quicker ball handler, blocked their shot, then led the break with a dribble behind his back to break free. Noodles like Holmgren aren’t supposed to be that good.

All Holmgren needs to do to be a valuable contributor to the Thunder is block shots and hit his threes as a reasonable clip. While not considered a likely primary offensive option for a big team, he projects to be an elite rim protector and skilled enough connector to help a good offense. If he shoots an above average clip from three, that alone is huge, as his shot is pretty unstoppable. Any juice he can give you as a creator is a bonus, and if he can really punish the dribbling guys, he could become something of a legitimate second option. Through a game, you can only reasonably judge that Holmgren is following this path.

Counterpoint: trash of history

Across two games, you can only reasonably judge that Holmgren is going to be crumpled up and flushed down the toilet unless he adds a minimum of over 50 pounds of muscle to his skeleton. Here’s what happened in the first game of Wednesday’s Thunder-Grizzlies game, where Holmgren was tasked with guarding the Gravel-esque Kenneth Lofton Jr.

Holmgren had a much worse game against Memphis, going 3-for-11, grabbing just 12 rebounds and barely blocking two shots. Pro-Chet supporters can point to his +/- of +20 and haters would then point to the words “Utah Summer League”.

But the facts are what they are. Holmgren only ever appeared in high school and college competitions, against which he always excelled in part because he always enjoyed a huge physical advantage. But will that size advantage be blunted at the next level, where everyone is big and almost all the big men win out? While his stature and defensive instincts should isolate him to some degree, he’ll have to prove he can’t just be knocked down by determined big guys. Lofton Jr. weighs 280 pounds and he dislodged Holmgren with ease, conjuring up images of superior athletes like Joel Embiid or, sip, Zion Williamson throwing him like a 7-foot-1 javelin into the 17th row of seats. Hell, Bobby Portis is about 60 pounds on Holmgren, and you know Portis would love the chance to pick his teeth with that much-vaunted toothpick.


Chet Holmgren is legally prohibited from adding muscle to his frame, so that’s who he is. Sorry!

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