The Good: Chet Holmgren has outplayed every expectation for his rookie season.
It’s not just the 50/40/90 shooting. It’s not just the defensive paint presence (SEVEN blocks in his second game!). It’s the fact that Holmgren, for as unconventional a player as he is, has managed to fit seamlessly into this team.
The other four OKC Thunder starters spent a whole season together, developing chemistry and learning to play alongside one another. It makes sense that adding a gangly rookie to the mix could muddle things up.
The opposite has happened. Holmgren’s unique skills have made life easier for his teammates. His ability to hit above-the-break threes has spread the floor out even more. Runways to the basket are more expansive for Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams.
Lu Dort has graciously deferred some offensive opportunities, allowing his efficiency to soar. Giddey can get to his spot in the short midrange, and if the floater isn’t open, he’s got a built-in eject button via lofting it back to Holmgren.
I can gush all day about Holmgren’s offense, but the funny thing is he’s even more impactful on defense. His lean frame draws opponents in with the promise of easy post points. Holmgren’s everlasting wingspan quickly breaks that promise. Not to mention his jump timing and recovery. As a team, the OKC Thunder have seen a jump in blocks per game, steals per game, and defensive rating compared to last season.
The most exciting thing of all is that this man is a rookie. He’s thirteen games into his career and already delivering so much on his potential.
I mean, did you see that three he hit against the Warriors? If you missed it, scroll up and watch it. Then hit replay and watch it again. I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that drafting Chet Holmgren has brought Oklahoma City significantly closer to eventually raising a banner.