The Oklahoma City Thunder held their annual end-of-season exit interviews on Saturday afternoon following their season-ending loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Something was fitting about that loss, in the same arena the season started in and the hometown of 2nd overall pick Chet Holmgren.
Holmgren is not far removed from words like “unicorn” and “generational” attached to his name. He is a seven-footer who could be “franchise-changing” with his shot-making and shot-blocking ability as a seven-footer. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending injury in August at—a pro-am event in Seattle.
This was the first time we were able to speak with Holmgren since Media Days tipped off Training Camp all those months ago due to his inactivity. But, along the way, the Thunder kept everyone informed of how he was doing. From his second procedure to watching him workout before games and even at practice.
Chet Holmgren provides an encouraging update about his health and rehab status at NBA Exit Interviews.
Chet Holmgren came strolling into the Media room at the Thunder practice facility with a basketball in hand, cradling it the entire interview session. He was peppered with questions about his rehab process to his card-playing ability.
When describing Holmgren, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander pointed out to us that the Gonzaga product is “bad at cards,” to which Chet Holmgren confirmed.
When asked about his rehab process, the 2nd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft said, “I’m pretty much passed the rehab part of this journey. Now I’m progressing more into the 5-on-5 stuff and taking away any restrictions I have.” He added, “I feel great. I’ve had a great team around me to help me get back to a great point.”
Given how good the process is going, I asked Chet Holmgren if he plans to participate in the NBA Summer League this July, to which he was savvy in saying, “You know, right now, I’m focused on following the plan that we have in place, and when that time comes, that’s part of the plan, I’ll follow the plan like I have up to this point.”
Despite not playing in games, the seven-footer was asked what he learned during this season: “I don’t think I could sum it up to just one thing. There’s a lot I learned. I was able to watch — I had like a front-row seat to the class of getting buckets every night, watching Shai go out there, and all the other dudes, too, and other teams, as well. It was great for me to be able to watch how other teams play different styles, different personnel, and really be able to kind of pick up as much as I can from that and kind of take down all the knowledge so I can use it going forward.”
Throughout the day, I polled players on their favorite Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Instagram Captions, to which Tre Mann started a conspiracy that Drake is the only helping SGA come up with such lyrical masterpieces. While many agreed with Mann, when I asked Holmgren, he said these are all Gilgeous-Alexander’s creations. He even makes them around the team.
As fans sit back and watch games unfold, everyone is guilty of asking themselves what this team would look like with a healthy Holmgren. The second-overall pick is guilty of it, too. “Yeah, yeah, that’s part of analyzing the game as I’m watching. Just trying to understand, like I said before, how other teams are playing, how we’re playing, and kind of visualizing and thinking about how I could be in there in certain situations and how I would play that situation or affect that situation. That’s definitely a big part of it.”
This is a player itching to be great, and step back on the hardwood, which is how he described his free 7 Instagram caption, which sent the fanbase into a frenzy. While many fans looked far too deep into that snippet caption, Holmgren said, “Yeah, that’s a guy that’s anxious to play. We all know I love to play basketball, and that’s just me thinking forward to when I’m able to play again.”
The Oklahoma City Thunder capped off an exciting and unexpected season by finishing with a 40-42 record. Now, they get to add their only top-five pick of this rebuild, Chet Holmgren, to the fold.