The concern about Chet Holmgren heading into the 2022 draft was whether his frame could withstand the physicality of NBA basketball.
With that comes injury risk.
Whether that was part of the reason the Orlando Magic selected Paolo Banchero over Holmgren with the No. 1 overall pick or not is unknown. There were rumors that Holmgren did not want to play in Orlando because of the Magic’s crowded frontcourt.
Instead, he went No. 2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who announced on Thursday morning that Holmgren will miss the entire season with a Lisfranc injury in his right foot.
“Certainly, we are disappointed for Chet, especially given the excitement he had about getting on the floor with his teammates this season,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. “We know Chet has a long career ahead of him within our organization and the Oklahoma City community. One of the things that most impressed us during the process of selecting Chet was his determination and focus. We expect that same tenacity will carry him through this period of time as we work together and support him during his rehabilitation.”
The 7-foot-1, 195-pound Holmgren suffered the injury Saturday while defending LeBron James on a fast break in a pro-am game in Seattle. The game was stopped in the second quarter because of condensation on the court.
Holmgren, in his lone season at Gonzaga, averaged 14.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks while shooting 41.2 percent from three. That combination of skills, along with his 7-foot-6 wingspan, created talk of unicorn potential.
He dazzled in his Summer League debut, draining threes at one end and blocking shots at the other. He averaged 14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds over five games, including 16 points and 10 rebounds in a win over the Magic.
He then competed in a series of pro-am games, along with Banchero and other NBA stars.
His injury is a crushing blow for a Thunder team that went 24-58 last season, and for the league overall by having such an intriguing prospect miss his rookie season.
Our Aaron Goldstone discussed the concerns about Holmgren in his scouting report ahead of the draft….
“Undoubtedly, if it weren’t for his frame, Holmgren would be the unquestioned top prospect in this draft class.
“But looking past his incredibly rail-thin frame is something that many scouts and basketball fans alike just can’t seem to do. And I get it, how could you not question what the NBA is going to be like for a seven-foot prospect who has yet to crack 200 pounds? I’m sure Holmgren has heard questions about his frame throughout his entire basketball career, so the observations are nothing new. I’m not obtuse or naïve enough to realize that many prospects have entered professional basketball on the rather thin side. Kevin Durant (6-10/215 when drafted), Davis (6-10/222 when drafted), Dwight Howard (6-10/240 when drafted), Giannis Antetokounmpo (6-9/196 when drafted) - the NBA is littered with players that have managed to add additional strength and bulk to their frames since they entered the league as rookies.
“However, with Holmgren, weren’t not talking about a prospect that is just a little underweight. He’s viewed by many as a ‘once in a generation’ player for reasons other than just his unique skill-set. There just haven’t been many prospects that have ever been drafted in the lottery with Holmgren’s combination of height and weight.”
Holmgren’s build may not have been a factor in his injury, it simply could have been a bad break that would have been sustained by any player in that position. But nursing an early foot injury for a seven-footer who has not yet played an official NBA game could be a very tough road to navigate.
Wishing him a speedy recovery and hoping to see him back on the court as soon as possible.