ESPN analyst wrongly doubts Chet Holmgren’s ability to play center

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

The OKC Thunder selected Chet Holmgren with the 2nd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Holmgren represents the highest pick of this Thunder rebuild, but he has yet to make his debut. During a pro-am event in Seattle, Chet Holmgren suffered a Lisfranc fracture, which sidelined him for the entire season.

Chet Holmgren remained connected to the team; on top of attacking his rehab process, he was often found engaged with the active Thunder squad at practice and games. He used that time to soak up as much as he could about life in the NBA, to set him up for a successful rookie season this year.

ESPN Analyst has a flawed idea of what Chet Holmgren is at the center position

The Oklahoma City Thunder have openly told you their belief in Chet Holmgren. While many look at the seven-footer and worry he is “too skinny,” the Thunder are committed to playing Holmgren at the center position. This has led to flawed logic when predicting how the Gonzaga big man will handle this task.

Tim Bontemps echoes a flawed idea that many NBA fans share about Chet Holmgren. Arguing that he is too skinny to play center and will be exposed at this level.

The issue is it simply is not true. Sure, Chet Holmgren will not be able to defend Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. If Anthony Davis is at his best, he will be nearly impossible to stop as well. However, who on this OKC Thunder roster will handle those assignments to force Mark Daigneault to pivot?

Taking it a step further, who in the NBA makes life hard on Jokic or Embiid? No one. The answer is not to discredit Holmgren just because he looks funny but to credit these MVP-level big men who can’t be stopped by anyone else in the league.

The examples Bontemps uses are frankly ridiculous. If The Memphis Grizzlies want to dump the ball into Steven Adams and let him pound the rock into the floor as he backs down Chet Holmgren and potentially scores at the rim, the Thunder should send the Grizzlies organization the nicest thank you basket of all time! I am thinking exotic chocolate, the most expensive wines, and even some Champaign! Thank you for taking the ball away from Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and not spraying it out to Desmond Bane!

His Jonas Valanciunas appraisal was even further off base. We watched the New Orleans Pelicans take on the OKC Thunder in the NBA Play-in tournament, and they attempted to overuse Valanciunas.

Against a 6’10 Jaylin Williams, Valanciunas scored eight first-quarter points! However, the big man finished with just 16, as it eventually disrupted the team’s flow and hurt Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum.

The OKC Thunder would love absolutely nothing more than for you to divert from your offensive routine, take the ball out of the hands of your better players, to try to force-feed a big man, and, at best, come away with two points.

Chet Holmgren is also a prolific shot blocker and should not be overlooked on the defensive end. In this discussion, it also is not accounted for Holmgren being defended by the likes of a Steven Adams. Holmgren’s floor spacing ability will allow him to torch a cement-footed traditional big man.

There will be give and take with this role, but the OKC Thunder have complete confidence Chet Holmgren can be a center. We are just a month away from the regular season and two weeks away from the preseason to get our first glimpse at Chet Holmgren.

Next. Mark Daigneault discusses the ability for the OKC Thunder to go grab a star. dark