Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren is one of the most talented and most enigmatic prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft class. He’s tall (7-foot), skinny as a beanpole (approximately 200 pounds), but a dynamic defender coming off an incredibly efficient one-and-done freshman season. Is he worth the risk?
There’s not many big men with his body shape in the NBA and even fewer who have and held up physically. Kristaps Porzingis is our comp, and while the two play quite differently – Holmgren is a true defensive anchor – it’s not promising for his prospects that Porzingis’ injury history has hampered his true star power after a strong star in the NBA with the New York Knicks .
To value Holmgren is to appreciate more of what he Bell do than what he may note be able to do with the theoretical future injury concerns that come with his frame. He’s an elite defender. As a freshman he was top-10 nationally in college hoops in block rate and 94th percentile as a defender around the rim, according to Synergy data. His 7-foot-6 wingspan helps him affect and block shots routinely. Even when he’s not necessarily in perfect defensive position, he can recover with sheer length.
On offense he’s an additive force as well, ranking last season in the 99th percentile around the rim and finishing just about every shot attempt within arm’s reach of the bucket. As nearly a 40% 3-point shooter, he can space the floor as a true deep threat and also has some true guard skills as a handler. There’s not much he can’t do as a prospect, and with his sky-high ceiling being among the highest in the draft, he has a legitimate case to be considered as this year’s top prospect.
What the scouts say
We asked NBA scouts, giving them complete anonymity, for their take on Holmgren
“We could have this unique shot-blocker and shot-maker that maybe the league has never seen before with his size and ball skills. The body is the copout, I guess, for what he can be and not be, and what might deter him.”
Listen to Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander scout Holmgren’s skills on the Eye on College Basketball podcast.
Lanky athlete with ridiculous wingspan, and knows how to use it. Ranked top 10 among all college players as a freshman in block rate for Gonzaga
Smooth, crisp shot mechanics for a 7-footer who can be a scoring threat anywhere on the court: above the break 3-pointers, in the post and in the mid-range
Guard-like skills with the ball in his hands. Can create on offense, particularly off the dribble by attacking and can pull up to take shots over defenders
Competitive and fearless player who is a beloved teammate and foxhole guy
Slender frame; weighs less than 200 pounds at 7-foot, leading to legitimate questions about how his body will hold up over the course of 82-game NBA seasons
Physical center who isn’t afraid of contact, but was pushed off his spots at times during freshman season; teams who played him physically did so with some success
Unicorn-like game. No one really has the combination of Holmgren’s size and skill. A one-of-one. Can that be to his benefit, like, say, Ja Morant? Or to his detriment like Zion Williamson? We’ve never quite seen another player like him.
College numbers to know
- 19.1% assist rate to 17.9% turnover rate as sophomore
- 247Sports recruiting ranking: 5 stars, No. 1 player in the Class of 2021
- MaxPreps: National Player of the Year, 2020-21