The Oklahoma City Thunder landed one of the most intriguing NBA prospects in recent memory in Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren. OKC selected Holmgren with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, adding a dominant piece to their frontcourt. Holmgren was one of the players in consideration for the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but the Magic ended up selecting Paolo Banchero in what was a surprise pick.
That paved the way for Holmgren to land with the Thunder, and fans in OKC should be fired up about the pick. While Holmgren clearly has some mass to put on, he’s incredibly skilled for his size. Standing in at 7-feet, Holmgren weighs just 190 lbs. While he’ll likely be out-muscled early on in his career, he has the tools to make up for that with an excellent shooting stroke and outstanding post skills, as well as a rare knack for blocking shots.
The Thunder rebuild is starting to come to shape, and Holmgren figures to be a huge piece for them for the foreseeable future. With all that in mind, here are three bold predictions for Chet Holmgren in his rookie season with the Thunder.
3 bold predictions for Chet Holmgren in his rookie season with the Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Holmgren finishes top 5 in blocked shots
While there are questions about how Holmgren will match up against NBA bigs, one thing that’s undeniable is his uncanny ability to turn down shooters at the rim. Holmgren averaged a remarkable 3.7 blocks per game at Gonzaga across just 26.9 minutes per game. While he’ll be up against more formidable finishers at the rim, we’re expecting that part of game to translate well to the next level.
Holmgren figures to see significant run for the Thunder, and they’ll rely on him to help protect the rim. Considering he logged such absurd numbers in less than 30 minutes on the court per night in college, it’s certainly reasonable to envision Holmgren coming into his own as a shot-blocker as a pro.
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2. Holmgren averages a double-double
Holmgren’s ability to collect rebounds against the massive NBA centers he’ll be matched up with is a complete mystery. He’s certainly going to struggle to win the strength matchup, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be an effective rebounder. At Gonzaga, Holmgren averaged 9.9 rebounds per game, including almost 2 offensive boards.
A double-double per game as a rookie may seem like a stretch for Holmgren, considering he didn’t even put that production up at the college level. However, given that he only averaged 26.9 minutes per game, it’s fair to assume he’d have reached 10 rebounds per game if given more time on the floor.
Now that he’s set for a huge role for the Thunder as a rookie, Holmgren will prove to everyone that his weight shouldn’t be a concern and that he’s still capable of fighting for boards against some of the mammoth centers he’ll be battling. A stat line close to 14 points and 10 rebounds per game doesn’t sound unrealistic for Holmgren in Year 1.
1. Holmgren wins Rookie of the Year in a landslide
It’s not a very bold prediction for the No. 2 overall pick to be the Rookie of the Year. But we’re expecting Holmgren to completely run away with the award. Despite being in a loaded draft class with talented players including Jaden Ivey, Banchero, Jabari Smith, and Keegan Murray, among many others, Holmgren may have the most upside of any prospect.
Holmgren is a perfect fit for the modern NBA. He knocked down 39% of his 3-point opportunities last year, showcasing his ability to spread the floor offensively. He was also effective on the interior, however, knocking down 73.7% of his 2-point opportunities, and 71.7% of his free throw attempts. He’ll be a focal point of the Thunder’s offense in 2022-23 and should produce in a big way as a result. If Holmgren plays up to his potential, he should cruise to the Rookie of the Year award.