Thunder: Breaking down Chet Holmgren's historically hot start to playoff debut

New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One
New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Last year when the OKC Thunder fell against the Minnesota Timberwolves in their second and final Play-In Tournament game that held them from clinching a playoff berth, it was clear the team needed another big body.

It was also easy to wonder what kind of a difference 2022 second-overall draft prick Chet Holmgren could have made in the contest if he were not sidelined with a season-long injury.

Fast forward to the 2024 Western Conference Quarterfinals, and all questions are seemingly being answered as Holmgren has had a massive impact on postseason basketball for the Thunder as they square off with the New Orleans Pelicans.

So far, the "rookie" big is averaging 20.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game on 55.6 percent shooting and 41.7 percent shooting from deep.

Through his first two career playoff games, Holmgren's scoring mark ranks 23rd among 172 players who have logged playoff minutes. On top of this, he's one of only 10 first-year players to play so far during the playoffs, while being the only one averaging 20 or more points.

It's a Block Party

In Game 1, Holmgren set an all-time franchise record for the most blocks in a playoff debut with five swats. Surpassingly, the previous record set by Steven Adams' three blocks was set nearly 10 years to the date (April 19, 2014). The rookie big man also became the first player in NBA history to make two or more threes and block five or more shots in their playoff debut.

Excitingly enough, the history isn't done yet, as Holmgren is only the 10th player since 1980 to record five or more blocks in their playoff debut, joining all-time greats such as Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, and Patrick Ewing.

What Comes Next?

It is often said role players play better at home during the playoffs. Holmgren is not a role player, but the same adage can apply to young players too. Considering he's only 21 years of age, this hold true for him.

Therefore, it will be interesting to see how he and his young teammates respond to their first taste of a postseason road environment inside the Smoothie King Center.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort both have postseason experience (albeit limited), so they will likely be helping their teammates prep for what is ahead in Game 3.

Should Holmgren continue his current playoff dominance on the road, this will further instill fear across the association that the youngest number-one seed in NBA history is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

He's to hoping the tantalizing big man can continue to make history while the Thunder attempt to rewrite it.