The Oklahoma City Thunder have spent the last year preparing for the 2022 NBA Draft, and throughout the predraft process, it has been clear that they were circling Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren as their guy. With the 2022 NBA Draft lottery shaking out in their favor, and the Thunder getting some much-needed lottery luck, that dream became a reality for both sides.
Throughout this entire process, The seven-footer with guard-like skills has had a clear message, “bet on yourself.” After getting an invite to the 2022 NBA Draft green room, all eyes turned to these prospects’ fashion suits from Paolo Banchero’s eye-catching purple, to Tari Eason’s eye-popping lime green. Chet Holmgren elected for a standard black-on-black suit, but his jewelry meant a lot more.
OKC Thunder 2nd overall pick Chet Holmgren has bet on himself, now the Thunder are doing the same
Chet Holmgren might have opted for a low-key suit, but his jewelry was anything but. The Gonzaga center sported a big pair of diamond dice on a braided necklace with a simple message behind it “Bet on yourself.”
Holmgren is an awkward-looking seven-footer at just 195 pounds he plays like a guard with his grab-and-go ability while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc, protecting the rim at an elite level, and being underestimated due to his frame.
Still, that awkward-looking frame did not stop him from dominating the college ranks and working himself into a position to become the 2nd overall pick in Thursday’s draft. Now, it is OKC who is betting on Holmgren.
After the Orlando Magic made a shocking selection at number one, picking Paolo Banchero out of Duke when the entire NBA World (including the best news breaker in the business) thought the Magic would take Jabari Smith Jr.
Smith Jr, the number one player on my board fell to the second slot after only working out for the top two teams in the draft due to his agency’s belief he would not fall to the Houston Rockets, Thunder General Manager Sam Presti had an interesting choice to make.
Would it be Chet Holmgren, who he had been Presti’s target all along? Or the surprise faller in Jabari Smith Jr? The OKC Thunder stuck true to their prep-work and selected Chet Holmgren.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are betting on Chet Holmgren, and it is a risk they feel is worth taking. If Holmgren hits his ceiling, he will be a player we have never seen before. His pathway to being one of the best ten or 15 players in this league would be as a seven-footer who can facilitate an offense by having the game run through him, which includes passing out of the post as well as handling the ball, shooting the three-ball at an elite clip, scoring inside, and applying pressure at the rim defensively with his shot-blocking ability.
Whereas Jabari Smith Jr would be a “safer” option a cleaner fit next to Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and have a clearer path to his absolute ceiling. Smith Jr’s upside takes no imagination, while Holmgren will have to reinvent the game.
As we all know, Sam Presti lives by the saying “scared money don’t make none” and this is yet another bet he feels is worth making.