Nutshell: Don't Bet Against Chet?
Chet Holmgren isn't without his flaws. Will they outweigh his unique gifts?
Chet Holmgren has been one of the more intriguing prospects in recent memory. A slender, mobile center that can do a little bit of everything. I haven't always been enamored with him, however.
I've been on and off about Chet Holmgren ever since he stepped foot on the Gonzaga campus. I thought, "why is this kid attending a small conference school?" "Why isn't he going to a major conference and playing stiffer comp every game?" (I know Gonzaga is nasty). In college, he averaged over 14 PPG, nearly 10 RPG, 3.7 BPG, shot 39 percent from deep, and over 60 percent from the field. Sexy numbers. But even after the season I was still thinking he won't be a top-10 pick; pro coaches and scouts are going to realize he's going to get banged up. Then he went 2nd overall, which didn't seem like a surprise to anyone but me.
Obviously, NBA teams put insane amounts of effort, thought, and analytics into their selections. But they're also wrong a lot - think about how many college freshman or foreign players have been selected early and been out of the Association quickly. Will Chet be one of those guys? I think the jury is still out. His physique is likely the biggest question mark on his game.
Frame: Stick Figure
Here's a clip from his first day of Summer League, probably:
It's true, there were times he was exposed in college against some more physical players. Guess what? The NBA is a different kind of animal with a lot more physicality than the WCC. Look at the damage Kenny Lofton Jr. did to Chet in the Summer League. He's 6'7" and effortlessly plowed through Holmgren. It's never good to see your top pick giving up that many inches and being scored on so easily. Bully Ball is going to be an issue and this could turn into a pressure point that is heavily targeted by opposing teams. By far my biggest concern.
Offensively, he does a lot of things well, but he doesn't excel at anything...well, except scoring the ball right under the basket. In the NBA, where the court is spaced out more than in college, I could see his 3-point shooting improving and causing issues for defenses. I see this as a big plus for his game. 3's are where he will be most effective in the halfcourt. Unfortunately, I don't see him creating his shot too often. He just doesn't have that in his bag right now - maybe it will come.
In college, he was strongest in transition and I think the same will ring true in the NBA. He can run the floor, put the ball on the hardwood, and has terrific hands. Other bigs will certainly have trouble keeping up with him. Embiid would have a heart attack chasing him up and down. Holmgren is not going to be the next KD, those comparisons need to stop. But he could make himself into a solid player.
Iffy in the halfcourt, very good in transition, and a defender with some glaring weaknesses that can and will be exploited. To survive in the NBA he will need to increase his strength and his game in the halfcourt.
I admit he's proven me wrong before. I'm sure he's proven a lot of doubters wrong along the way. Maybe he will continue to do it in the NBA. I'll be keeping a close eye on his game next season.