The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Chet Holmgren with the second overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the seven-footer out of Gonzaga was pegged as a unicorn big man who could space the floor, rebound, a playmaker, and rim protector. His long-awaited NBA debut was put on pause after he suffered a Lisfranc Fracture in August of 2022, to hold him out of the entire 2022-23 NBA season.
Now, as we sit on the doorsteps of August of 2023, the OKC Thunder are once again eager to see Chet Holmgren hit the hardwood. He once again laced up his shoes for Summer League, where he flashed unreal potential on both ends of the floor. Holmgren averaged 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and a real while swatting 3.5 shots per game during his four-game Summer League stretch.
The OKC Thunder saw Chet Holmgren dominate Summer League again, but he revealed his Hall of Fame idol.
While many on NBA Twitter have taken the time to debate if Holmgren can bang down low with the big-body centers of today’s game, or if he can even be an effective NBA player with his frame, while most of it is just fans getting jokes off on a social media platform, it is interesting to look at the contrast between how fans discuss Holmgren and how current/former players do.
The list of players who have played in the NBA that have also praised Chet Holmgren is growing longer by the day, from Kevin Durant, to Patrick Beverley, Trey Murphy, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, and others. Now, you can add Kevin Garnett to that list.
Though, Garnett’s praise hits a bit closer to home for Holmgren, the Minnesota native revealed in an interview with Garnett that he looked up to the former Timberwolves big man.
“You’ve been blocking everything!” Garnett exclaimed, as Chet Holmgren slyly said, “I learned that from somewhere!” while pointing at the Hall of Fame power forward. Kevin Garnett said he would help Holmgren with anything he needs, and live on the podcast, the two worked out a deal to get in the gym together.
Kevin Garnett went on to break down Chet Holmgren’s game, even comparing it to last year, Holmgren’s first Summer League appearance “I watched you play in [Salt Lake City Summer League this year], and I could see the difference in the years bro. Not only do you look smarter, but your IQ, bro. I watch the intangibles, I am watching what you do off the ball, I am watching how far you drift out verse you drifting in, and bro, you are blocking everything!”
Not only is Kevin Garnett a Hall of Famer, but he is a member of the NBA’s top-75 players of all time list. This ringing endorsement of Holmgren should not fall on deaf ears. Typically, when teams, coaches, players, and even former players praise a prospect, they get it right when it is to this extent. Especially in contrast to the fan-ran narratives around Holmgren.