Chet Holmgren has confronted keen challengers from the second he was recognized as one of many prime gamers in his highschool class method again throughout his sophomore yr at Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Academy. Opponents checked out Holmgren and noticed a 7-foot string bean they believed they might overpower on the rim. In addition they noticed a possibility to make a reputation for themselves by doing it.
Holmgren’s challengers have are available all styles and sizes, with various levels of each expertise and delusion. One after the other, they tried to attain by him, over him, and round him within the paint. One after the other, Holmgren turned them away, often a number of instances on the identical possession.
It’s simple to have a visceral response the primary time you see Holmgren on the courtroom. He’s each impossibly lengthy and impossibly skinny at 7-foot, 195 kilos. The primary emotion his look garners is sort of at all times doubt. This beanpole can’t really cling with large males who typically have at the least 50 kilos on him, can he? There’s no method he can actually be thought-about a prime NBA draft decide, proper?
The goal Holmgren wears on his chest has fostered a relentless aggressive drive that serves as a vital part to his success. Whether or not you’re watching Holmgren on TV or taking part in towards him, it doesn’t take lengthy for practically everybody to reach on the similar conclusion: sure, Chet actually is that good. He’s additionally one of many hardest younger rim protectors you’ll ever see.
That is what makes Holmgren a prime tier prospect within the 2022 NBA Draft class.
Holmgren is without doubt one of the greatest defensive prospects to hit the NBA draft in years
Holmgren’s size stands out virtually as a lot as his scrawny body. He reportedly has a 7’6 wingspan that qualifies as elite even by NBA requirements. Holmgren makes use of his arms because the foundational software of his terrific defensive talent set. He has a case as among the finest rim protectors to hit the draft over the past decade.
Holmgren confronted one among his hardest particular person matchups of the season within the second spherical of the NCAA match towards the Memphis Tigers’ personal star freshman middle Jalen Duren. Duren is a top-six prospect on this draft and he’s already constructed like a grown man at 18 years previous at 6’10 and 255 kilos with a 7’5 wingspan. Memphis got here out with a transparent recreation plan for Duren to assault Holmgren on the basket. Holmgren held up extremely properly on the defensive finish for a lot of the night time.
The primary clip is an instance of Holmgren’s verticality with out fouling — when he jumps straight up along with his arms prolonged within the air, there simply aren’t many guys who can reliably end excessive of him. The second clip reveals Holmgren holding up within the publish: he eats two shoulder bumps from Duren, maintains his steadiness, and pinpoints the ball along with his hand for a block. Within the third clip, Holmgren once more holds up within the publish after which reveals off his means to contest and block photographs while not having to leap. All three are an instance of Chet’s purposeful size — how he leverages each inch to disrupt opposing offensive gamers.
Holmgren does job towards fellow bigs when he’s guarding the perimeter, too. Right here’s Duke’s Paolo Banchero, our different Tier 1 prospect on this draft class, attempting to take Chet off the bounce from the wing. Holmgren stays with him the entire time and blocks his shot.
Much more athletic ball handlers with a head of steam have had a tricky time knocking Chet from his spots. A.J. Griffin — oh hey, one other top-six prospect on this draft class — is about as large and robust as 18-year-old wings come, and Holmgren swallowed up this drive by merely snatching the ball out of his fingers.
Holmgren isn’t notably quick, however he’s fast in tight areas. He had loads of blocks this yr off weakside rotations, darting from his project within the paint to problem or wipe away a shot on the final second. He profiles as the kind of large who can each execute his a part of the defensive scheme and in addition clear up errors from his teammates.
Right here’s how Chet compares to different prime bigs in recent times when it comes to block fee and steal fee. He swats photographs at an elite degree, at present inserting top-10 within the nation in block fee. He additionally has the third highest steal fee of anybody on this group, solely behind Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis. One are the place Holmgren can enhance is fouling much less typically.
Chet’s protection vs. different prime bigs
|Title||Faculty/Yr||Block fee||Steal fee||Fouls per 40|
|Title||Faculty/Yr||Block fee||Steal fee||Fouls per 40|
|Joel Embiid||Kansas, 2014||11.7||2.3||5.8|
|Deandre Ayton||Arizona, 2018||6.1||1||2.8|
|Evan Mobley||USC, 2021||8.8||1.4||2.1|
|Jarrett Allen||Texas, 2017||5||1||2.6|
|Jaren Jackson Jr.||Michigan State, 2018||14.3||1.6||5.9|
|Anthony Davis||Kentucky, 2012||13.7||2.5||2.4|
|Mo Bamba||Texas, 2018||13.1||1.5||3.4|
|Bam Adebayo||Kentucky, 2017||4.9||1.2||3.5|
|Chet Holmgren||Gonzaga, 2022||12.7||1.7||5.2|
Holmgren can house the ground and hit threes on offense
Holmgren’s capturing flashes have been an enormous a part of his enchantment since his highschool days. His capturing stroke at all times seemed good in clips, however it was onerous to mission precisely the place his quantity and accuracy can be on the school degree. Proper now, he’s 40-for-102 from three-point vary, good for 39.2 %. If he shoots like that within the NBA, it’s going make him extraordinarily precious as a entrance courtroom flooring spacer.
Holmgren has proven the flexibility to hit all forms of threes. He can simply house the ground to the nook and hit a triple over a tough closeout. He ought to be capable to shoot excessive of just about anybody due to these ridiculous arms and a excessive launch.
Chet’s means to house the ground is the important thing to his versatility. He performs subsequent to a standard 5 in Drew Timme at Gonzaga who has been the point of interest of the Zags offense all yr. The 2-big method works collectively as a result of Holmgren’s capturing permits Timme to work inside.
Holmgren can shoot threes from each spot across the arc. Go away him open and he’ll let it fly.
Holmgren can be a risk to shoot in transition and semi-transition. What number of elite rim protectors are additionally willingly taking this shot?
Holmgren’s grab-and-go means within the open flooring (extra on that later) turns into much more harmful as a result of it’s a must to guard him as quickly as he approaches the arc.
Gonzaga will even run performs to get Holmgren open for 3 in lifeless ball conditions. This can be a heck of a factor to cowl for an opposing protection on a sidelines inbounds cross:
We’ll save the perfect clip for final. Watch Holmgren come off this dribble-handoff with Timme, hop right into a stepback, and drain the three. If that is constantly a part of his scoring bundle, it’s going to take his offense to the subsequent degree.
Holmgren is a ferocious finisher across the basket
It’s simple to see Chet’s body and suppose he’ll be too weak to complete inside. Watch him play and you’ll shortly be taught that’s not the case.
Holmgren shot 103-of-122 on the rim this yr, per Bart Torvik — good for 84.4 %. Are these numbers inflated by the smaller and weaker competitors he confronted in WCC? Possibly a bit, however Chet additionally shot properly on the rim towards school basketball’s large boys: he went 4-for-4 towards UCLA, 6-for-7 towards Duke, and 2-for-2 towards Memphis on the basket.
Listed below are some finishes from Holmgren this season that stood out:
Holmgren’s size is a significant component across the rim offensively, as properly. He doesn’t want nice athletic explosion to complete properly as a result of he’s already so near the basket simply by elevating his arm. He additionally has smooth fingers, exhibiting the flexibility to catch and end on the transfer in a single movement. Holmgren was solely used as a curler within the pick-and-roll on 8.2 % of his play sorts this yr in Gonzaga’s Timme-centric offense, per Synergy Sports activities. Whereas his numbers have been solely common — ending the 52nd percentile on such play sorts — he has the attributes to be extra harmful on a spaced NBA flooring.
Chet’s greatest attribute as a finisher could be that he at all times goes up sturdy. He has far more dunks than any of his opponents for the No. 1 total decide this season, and he additionally hasn’t missed a dunk but this yr. Holmgren’s ending measures up properly towards Banchero and Auburn’s Jabari Smith, his friends atop the 2022 draft class, in addition to a participant he’s generally in comparison with — final yr’s No. 3 decide and soon-to-be Rookie of the Yr, Evan Mobley:
Chet’s ending vs. different prime prospects
|Title||Rim makes an attempt||Rim FG%||Dunks||Dunk FG%|
|Title||Rim makes an attempt||Rim FG%||Dunks||Dunk FG%|
|Jabari Smith Jr.||63||65.1||14||93.3|
Holmgren is a talented open flooring ball handler who can rating in transition
Ball dealing with has been a part of Holmgren’s enchantment since he emerged as an elite prospect. He first gained nationwide notoriety for crossing over Stephen Curry at highschool camp as a rising junior. Holmgren dealt with the ball greater than ever for Minnehaha as a senior as long-time highschool and AAU teammate Jalen Suggs graduated to the faculty ranks.
Holmgren’s ball dealing with has been on show typically this yr, notably within the open flooring. Gonzaga completed with the second quickest offense in school basketball, per KenPom. Holmgren was utilized in transition greater than every other play kind, taking on practically 23 % of his possessions. He completed within the 93rd percentile within the nation as a transition scorer.
A few of Holmgren’s most spectacular moments this season have come attacking in transition.
“Seize-and-go” means — rebounding the ball and pushing it down the courtroom — has turn out to be a precious talent for large males in right now’s period. Holmgren doesn’t have to get the ball to a guard when he hits the glass, he can deliver it up himself and get into the offense. Defenses have to protect towards him taking a 3 in transition, which may open the lane for his rim assaults.
It really feel odd to see somebody so tall deal with the ball within the open flooring, however it’s going to proceed to be a part of Chet’s recreation on the NBA degree.
Holmgren is a fast decision-maker as a passer
One other method Holmgren separates himself from Banchero and Smith on the prime of the draft: he makes the quickest and smartest selections with the ball of any potential prime decide.
Whereas Banchero is clearly a superior passer and creator, he additionally tends to carry the ball. Identical goes for Smith. Holmgren’s passing talent is much less about creating benefits that result in assists, and extra about protecting the ball transferring as soon as he touches it.
Chet appears to embody Monty Williams’ “0.5 basketball” greater than anybody on this class — the concept gamers have half a second to both cross, shoot, or dribble. Holmgren gained’t go away your jaw agape with a few of passes the way in which Paolo can, however his means to make fast selections can result in higher offense simply by protecting the ball transferring.
Chet’s body isn’t his solely query
Holmgren’s elite rim safety, succesful three-point capturing, open flooring ball dealing with, and fast decision-making positions him as a superb draft prospect. For all his strengths, there are nonetheless potential pitfalls in his translation to the NBA.
It stays truthful to have considerations about Holmgren’s body. He’s nonetheless solely 195 kilos, and it’s tough to foretell how a lot weight he’ll be capable to add over time. Whereas he’s finished an ideal job of taking part in by contact on the school degree, the NBA is a unique beast in that regard. Even the perfect defenders on the earth often discover themselves on the flawed finish of a spotlight, however Banchero powering by Holmgren for a end is without doubt one of the defining prospect clips of this cycle:
Holmgren has one other large query to reply exterior of his body that could be much more regarding for NBA groups: how a lot is he going to attain within the halfcourt?
Holmgren’s three-point capturing means ought to enable him to be a optimistic offensive participant, however it’s tough to mission him as a high-volume shooter. For all of his ball dealing with talent within the open flooring, Holmgren can wrestle to drive towards a set protection. He typically defaults to a spin transfer and fadeaway that may look fairly when it goes in however typically doesn’t really feel like environment friendly offense.
Holmgren might want to shoot it properly sufficient for defenses to shut out onerous on him (for now, we’d classify him as however not nice shooter). When these closeouts come, will he be capable to assault the protection off the bounce to make performs for himself and others? He must be an asset within the dunker’s spot, however he’ll should threaten opposing defenses past that. Getting him extra concerned as a roll man is a straightforward place to start out.
Finally, Holmgren tasks as an elite rim protector who probably profiles as a workforce’s third choice offensively. That form of participant can nonetheless simply return No. 1 total worth, however it isn’t precisely a standard archetype for a prime decide. A defense-first prospect hasn’t been chosen No. 1 total within the NBA draft since Anthony Davis was taken with the highest decide in 2012. We at present have Holmgren as our No. 2 prospect on this class, only a hair behind Banchero.
The largest motive to wager on Holmgren could be his aggressive make-up. He’s already heard the identical questions on his recreation for years. Up to now, all he’s finished is show the doubters flawed.