Depending on which NBA Mock Draft you read, Chet Holmgren is alternating anywhere as the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, occasionally dipping into No. 3. It will most likely be a battle between him and Auburn uber-freshman Jabari Smith for the top pick, although maybe there will be a surprise and Paolo Banchero will take the cake.
Either way, at the very minimum, Holmgren should be the highest drafted Zag since Adam Morrison went No. 3 to the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006. Anything higher and he will be the highest drafted Zag in school history. It will be the second-straight year the Zags have produced a lottery pick, following Jalen Suggs at No. 5 last season.
- Height: 7’0, weight: 195, wingspan 7’6
- 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 3.7 blocks
The key thing when examining Holmgren’s productivity last season is to look beyond just the simple box score stats. Holmgren shot an astonishing 73.7 percent from two-point last season, helping lead him to a true shooting percentage of 69.1 percent (No. 3 in NCAA) and an effective field goal percentage of 68 percent (No. 6 in NCAA).
This is largely because on top of his arsenal down low, Holmgren’s major trait is his reliability as a three-point threat. Holmgren shot 39 percent from long range last season, often times drilling shots as a trailing big. Just this alone made him a nightmare for opposing defenses.
The defense’s post player simply couldn’t run his way down near the hoop, because if he did it would often times leave Holmgren wide open, or open enough to very easily shoot over a smaller guard with his height.
However, it still isn’t that simple for opposing defenses. Holmgren displays ball control and speed one would not expect from someone his height. Multiple times throughout the season, Holmgren would either block a shot or corral a rebounds, and take it down the floor himself coast to coast. If the opposing big tried to match up to Holmgren too far up the court, Holmgren would blow by him, usually for an easy lane to the bucket.
Absolute cheat code. pic.twitter.com/VxOa3Kf8kr— Slipper Still Fits (@slipperstillfit) February 25, 2022
There has been a lot of talk about Holmgren being a unicorn prospect, and for everyone at Gonzaga that watched him play for the entirety of the season, that could not be more correct. He will impact the game at the next level in the same way he did in college this past season.
Beyond his ability to dribble and shoot at a much better clip than peers of his size, Holmgren’s length makes him an absolute menace as a rim defender. He broke Brandon Clarke’s single season block record at Gonzaga, doing so in six fewer games and 180 fewer minutes.
He did all of this against elite-level competition throughout the season, posting a slightly higher block percentage against Tier A + B competition (according to Ken Pomeroy) over the occasionally underwhelming WCC opponents.
Banchero goes at Holmgren again in the first possession of the 2nd half, but this time Chet gets the block. pic.twitter.com/Bmf7ayfXkv— Poliseli (@BBall_Poliseli) November 27, 2021
A combination of his excessively long go-go-gadget arms and just an innate knowledge of how to block shots allowed Holmgren to deny the shot from all parts of the floor. He would block seemingly wide open three pointers. He would adjust in mid-air and block from the weak side. Players would potentially drive by him only to watch their shot get taken out of the air at the last second.
This sequence by Chet Holmgren is special. Such a smart defender and does a great job at defending the pick and roll. Recovers to get the block at the basket then takes it rim to rim for the dunk. pic.twitter.com/MS1Je8nLGj— Global Scouting (@GlobalScouting_) April 9, 2022
Pretty much the lone weakness that will pop up from anyone is Holmgren’s physical stature, which shouldn’t be a much of a concern in the grand scheme of things. Holmgren matched up against some stellar college bigs all season, plenty of whom are going to hear their names called during the draft, and he more than held his own.
Someone like Paolo Banchero is just one of those players who is a full grown man playing a teenagers game. Holmgren looks like a a teenager who sprouted up to seven feet playing a teenagers game. He is never going to weigh 250 pounds, but a little time in the weight room and a bit more muscle shouldn’t be hard to come by with the help of a NBA staff.
In that regard, Holmgren is a bit of a “project” player, in the most loose sense of the word. He might not make the most immediate impact compared to Banchero or Smith, but it shouldn’t take long for Holmgren to establish himself in the NBA. However, there will be a bit of an uphill climb as he transitions to facing off continually against size and speed of the average NBA player.
That in itself should not shy any fan away from Holmgren landing on their team. He is a generational talent that was an absolute thrill to watch in his one college season and should have a very fun NBA career ahead of him.