Oklahoma City Thunder added 7-foot, 195-pound centre Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NBA draught. Many doubt his NBA post ability due to his small size.
On paper, his Summer League start in Salt Lake City on Tuesday was a significant challenge. Literally. Kofi Cockburn and Tacko Fall gave the Utah Jazz one of the biggest frontcourts.
Holmgren didn't let Cockburn back down in the lane early. He blocked shots with footwork and length and avoided getting buried.
Holmgren kept Fall off the block when he entered the game midway through the first quarter. The Thunder's length, speed, and Holmgren's all-around effort defeated the Jazz, 98-77.
Holmgren: "I just wanted to battle Cockburn and Fall." "Winning the basketball game wouldn't be simple. I wasn't attempting to pick fights or prove anything to anyone."
Summer League head coach Kameron Woods said, "Be aggressive in the post." "Our squad would encourage him so he could be active defensively, and he did a tremendous job battling. I think he played physically and with style on both sides of the court tonight."
Holmgren came to make a statement and wasn't afraid of competition. In the past, star players skipped Utah games and debuted in Las Vegas.
"I'm a professional basketball player with the Oklahoma City Thunder and I'll play anytime," Holmgren said. "I'm grateful to have played tonight. Whenever possible, I'll play."
Holmgren's ball movement captivated Vivint Arena fans. Weaving through defenders and shooting 3-pointers with Fall in his face. Holmgren's stature, shot-blocking talents, and ball-handling ability have made him a unicorn-type potential.
Holmgren had 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 blocks, and 4 assists. SLC Summer League record: six blocks. Josh Giddey returned from a February hip injury with 14 points and 11 assists.
The Thunder play the Grizzlies at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday before heading to Las Vegas for Summer League.