After an outstanding performance in this year’s NCAA Tournament, recently eliminated Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren has the chance to go first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft.
The freshman already has the tools to become a first-class NBA big man. In addition to standing at 7-feet fall with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, Holmgren shot for 39% beyond the arc this season. And he’s a defensive anchor, averaging 3.7 blocks per game in his freshman year. Holmgren is a walking double-double, averaging 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game this season, and could become a cornerstone for a struggling NBA team that falls to the top of this year’s lottery.
“Physically, he’s scary as hell, but basketball is a game of versatility and he’s the most versatile player in the draft,” an NBA scout told Yahoo Sports about Holmgren.
Scouts have likened Holmgren to former Knicks All-Star and current Washington Wizard Kristaps Porzingis because of his immense versatility at his height. Both big men can stretch the floor, be explosive at the rim and hold down defenses.
But one of the few caveats to Holmgren — like Porzingis — is his weight. Weighing only 190 pounds, Holmgren has been easily bullied in the paint by bigger centers throughout the season. Recently, Arkansas’ Jaylin Williams, who outweighs Holmgren by 50 pounds, scored 15 points to help the Razorbacks stun Gonzaga.
However, with a strong foul discipline, Holmgren has shut down other teams’ centers at the rim with his verticality and wingspan. When Gonzaga faced off against Memphis in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Holmgren guarded the Tigers’ Jalen Duren and made him shoot 3-11 from the field. Throughout the course of the Bulldogs’ season, Holmgren has been dependable and consistent on the court.
With an abundance of talent already in his toolbox, Holmgren can easily fill out as he grows older. NBA scouts told Yahoo Sports that they predict Holmgren will guard the four position once he enters the league since he can’t effectively guard the low post just yet.
“Forget about who he guards, who guards him?” one NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. “The game has changed, and it’s not about getting it inside anymore; it’s about getting it outside.”
Holmgren has a style of play that makes him dangerous on both sides of the floor, and he can keep on growing into a more complete player and increase his playmaking skills to be on a similar level as current NBA MVP candidates Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. And at 19, Holmgren’s stock can only keep on rising.