3 Things to watch in Salt Lake City for OKC Thunder Summer League

Chet Holmgren #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Chet Holmgren #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Chet Holmgren #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder.(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /

It is now time for our main event and what you all likely have been clamoring for me to discuss regarding the OKC Thunder in Summer League.

What will Chet Holmgren look like in his first time back on the court?

It has been 352 days since the last time OKC Thunder fans saw Chet Holmgren sporting a Thunder uniform in a televised NBA game when OKC took on the Sacramento Kings. About a week before that final game, Holmgren lit the world on fire in his Summer League debut in Salt Lake City. The 2022 number two overall pick came out like his hair was on fire with 23 points, seven rebounds, and four assists on 78/67/100 shooting splits. By my math, that’s pretty good, and on top of all that, Holmgren tallied a Summer League record of 6 blocks in his debut that had the NBA world perplexed at the raw talent, skill, and potential the rookie prospect showed off in his first outing.

OKC Thunder fans only saw him for a handful of games in SLC and Vegas, but the consensus at that time was that Thunder fans and the NBA as a whole could “Bet on Chet” as a future player to keep an eye out for with a sky-high ceiling with no end in sight.

315 days ago, everything changed for Holmgren and his rookie season.

Lebron James, Dejounte Murray, Paolo Banchero, and many other big names made their way to Seattle to play in a pro-am game in former NBA 6th man of the year Jamal Crawford’s “CrawsOver League.” The stage was set for Banchero, the number one overall pick to take on the number two overall pick Chet Holmgren with Lebron James looming on the floor in front of a packed crowd.

Then disaster struck on a fairly regular basketball play. Lebron James was on a fast break in the open floor with only one man in front of him: Chet Holmgren. James goes up for a layup, with Holmgren contesting. Holmgren forced a miss but came up limping after the play before being checked out of the game.

Holmgren later was announced as having suffered a Lisfranc injury in his right foot that would keep him sidelined for all of the 2022-2023 NBA season. Thunder fans and basketball fans around the league were disappointed and shocked by the news, but it was the hardest for Holmgren.

July 3rd, 2023: Chet Holmgren will make his return to the basketball floor. Fans were left with their expectations blown away the last time Holmgren took the floor in Utah, but what can they or should they expect or watch for in his first game back from injury?


A foot injury like Holmgren suffered takes certain developmental skills off the table in terms of his ability to work on them with his condition. Shooting happens to be one of the things he probably had a ton of time to work on and polish over this season. During this year, many Thunder media members (myself included) posted videos of Holmgren at the Thunder practice facility doing form shooting either in a boot or while on a scooter.

Just to try to look at a silver lining, maybe this extra time to really perfect his shooting could be a huge boost for Holmgren in the future. Before his leg injury, Paul George was a career 36% three-point shooter on 4.7 attempts per game. Since returning from that injury, George has shot 38.9% from three on 7.8 attempts per game, including 4 of those seasons shooting over 40% from deep.

This is not to say it is a guarantee that Holmgren will come back and turn into giant Klay Thompson or something, just maybe a hidden positive that could show itself in Holmgren’s return. Paul George himself even cited that all of the time he could only spend shooting due to his injury really helped his shooting take a leap.


Despite his looks and lanky frame, Chet Holmgren is an elite athlete with an incredibly unique skill repertoire. The most obvious way that his past injury could show itself is through his explosion and athleticism on the floor.

Will he be able to be the same weakside defender that erases shots off the glass like a windshield wiper hitting a fly? We don’t know yet. Is he going to be the same lob threat that he flashed he could be with Josh Giddey? Again, we don’t know. Will he have the same speed and bend to blow by slow-footed big defenders on the perimeter or switch out onto guards on defense? Only time will tell.

This is not a guess or a prediction on either side of things, but just how Holmgren moves around the floor and how much he can do that we saw him do last year in terms of athleticism should definitely be something Thunder fans should watch for.


Standing at 7’1 and 208 pounds, according to the OKC Thunder, Chet Holmgren has put on some weight since last season!

When you look at Holmgren’s length and frame, you would assume the last thing this dude wants is to play with a ton of physicality down low, fight through traffic and big bodies for rebounds, contest dunkers, and more.

Chet Holmgren is not afraid of contact and did not display any reluctance to get down and dirty at any playing level from high school, college, or in Summer League. I bring up physicality mainly to ask how much contact and force is Holmgren going to play with coming back from his injury.

We have seen the likes of Russell Westbrook recover from major injuries and then go right back to playing at a peak level with no fear of reinjuring himself. On the other end of things, you have Derrick Rose, who after his first ACL tear, was definitely concerned and cautious over potentially hurting himself again and took time to build his confidence back up to play more like himself preinjury. This is not a shot at a former MVP in Rose, more so asking which side of things will Holmgren look like in his first games back.

There is no wrong answer, but given his widely publicized level of confidence and the physicality he played with previously, I would look to see how Holmgren attacks his first time back on the floor. This will likely not factor into large portions of his game, but you will get glimpses of it to see just how confident he feels in his body or if he will be cautious.

Next. 3 Best Free Agent signings in OKC Thunder history. dark