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NBA Draft 2022: What Chet Holmgren brings to Thunder

By John Fanta
FOX Sports College Basketball Writer

Sam Presti has by no means been afraid to swing for the fences. It’s why he was as soon as quoted in Paul George‘s documentary saying “scared cash don’t make none.” 

So it is no shock that, from the time the NBA Draft lottery assigned the No. 2 total decide to Oklahoma City, Chet Holmgren was all the time the title related to the Thunder. 

The Thunder are betting on the 7-foot, 195-pound unicorn out of Gonzaga to be a generational expertise, and with OKC possessing 4 of the highest 34 alternatives on this draft, going for the large splash makes much more sense.

Why Chet Holmgren is a “good match” for Thunder

The 2022 NBA Draft had an sudden shift within the 1-3 slots: Paolo Banchero to the Orlando Magic, Chet Holmgren to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Jabari Smith to the Houston Rockets. Joy Taylor reacts to the draft and explains why Holmgren is an ideal slot in OKC.

Before anything, Holmgren’s rim safety jumps off the web page, and that trait goes to translate instantly within the NBA. His 3.7 blocks per recreation ranked fourth within the nation final season, and he was probably the greatest defensive gamers for the WCC champion Bulldogs, who had been a No. 1 seed and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

The concept that as a result of Holmgren seems to be scrawny, he due to this fact should not embrace physicality is uninformed and simply improper. The Minneapolis native possesses elite toughness, persistently hanging in on protection. He additionally has nice, lively palms that enable him to wreak havoc on an opposing participant.

That protection is what begins up Holmgren’s offensive talent set. With such lengthy strides, the consensus Second Team All-American can get to the place he desires to go rapidly. According to Synergy, he transformed on 80% of his half-court makes an attempt on the rim, the perfect mark in faculty basketball. 

What separates Holmgren from different prospects with measurement and pace is his perimeter recreation. He has nice capturing mechanics, and his confidence in his shot makes him a troublesome matchup to defend, particularly since he hit on 39% from past the arc at Gonzaga.  

The Thunder have a transparent want for measurement that may area the ground, and so they had been frankly undersized final season with Isaiah Roby, Jaylen Hoard, Derrick Favors and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl splitting time on the 5. Bringing in Holmgren fills that want completely.  

Whether Holmgren turns into a franchise celebrity for OKC depends upon how his body can maintain up below the physicality of the NBA’s 82-game marathon. It’s not that Holmgren received’t be prepared to deal with it — he’s extraordinarily aggressive — it’s whether or not his distinctive physique can final when huge males transfer into him and make contact along with his chest. He has to placed on some extra weight, however even then, the query of how his specific body pans out within the league is within the steadiness.

“He’s going to have to modify and be taught identical to any participant, however I believe he’s distinctive,” Presti, the Thunder’s common supervisor, stated after the draft. “If you actually take into consideration a number of the finest gamers within the NBA, and I’m not saying that he’s or might be, however I believe typically distinctive is helpful, and I believe a number of the issues that make him distinctive may be leveraged and utilized. 

“But it’s going to be a course of. He has to work out, and we’ve to work out, how to arrange conditions for him to achieve success. I’m very assured he’ll be prepared, prepared and in a position to put in all of the work. That’s one of many issues about him that was actually engaging.”  

Holmgren hopes to be the man for OKC, which may also search for 23-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and 19-year-old Josh Giddey to preserve constructing. Gilgeous-Alexander ranked eleventh within the NBA in scoring at 24.5 PPG this previous season, whereas Giddey made the All-Rookie Second Team. 

“I really feel like I slot in fairly properly with them,” Holmgren stated at his introductory press convention. “They can do loads of issues on the basketball courtroom. Shai is called a extremely good scorer. He can get anyplace on the ground that he desires to with out a lot assist, and Josh is a good passer. Both of them actually shift the protection.”

Regardless of what precisely Holmgren finally ends up being within the NBA, he’s already a crowd-pleaser for the passionate Thunder fan base and actually wished to name Oklahoma City his house.  

“Now that I’m right here, I can formally say that is the place I need to be,” Holmgren stated with a smile as he was launched. “This is a good group, nice metropolis and nice fan base to be in.”

John Fanta is a nationwide faculty basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports. He covers the game in a wide range of capacities, from calling video games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to offering commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta. 

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