We are just three games into Chet Holmgren’s NBA career and he’s had moments where he’s looked like the generational talent that many draft analysts have predicted him to be. Of course there have been some forgettable sequences, but that’s only natural for a guy who’s still trying to find his footing.
Even with the few low moments, Holmgren is still the odds-on favorite to take home the Rookie of the Year Award at +360.
Why Holmgren’s favored
A lot of this boils down to two things: opportunity and defense. The Oklahoma City Thunder have a majority of young talent, Holmgren being in the top-tier. Due to that fact, he won’t be competing for minutes with a veteran player or really any other player for that matter.
Since the Thunder are rebuilding, they’re going to try to get their rookie center as much playing time as possible. This isn’t to say that other rookies like Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith Jr. won’t get a lot of minutes, but a lot of what those two do is predicated on if they have the ball in their hands.
Ultimately, Bachero should get the most offensive looks on the Orlando Magic, but the team has a plethora of players who will also look to get their fair share on the offensive end.
Smith will be in a better situation with the Houston Rockets, however, he’s not as NBA ready as Banchero and Holmgren. Smith should still have a great rookie year, it just may not have as high of a ceiling on it like Holmgren’s and Banchero’s.
The biggest difference maker that could swing Holmgren’s way is defense. In only three NBA Summer League games, Holmgren has totaled 12 blocks while averaging 15 points and nine rebounds a game.
In his first game against the Utah Jazz, Holmgren showcased his offensive versatility, creating his own offense and going 4-6 from three. While showcasing an offensive arsenal that was a bit of a question mark, he showed why he could be a generational defensive player.
His 7-foot-1 height and 7-foot-6 wingspan gives him the ability to cover ground that most NBA players can’t. Holmgren also doesn’t have cinder blocks for feet, so it’s helped him stay with quicker guards and forwards.
However, he does have his limitations on the defensive end. The one thing that could hold Holmgren back from reaching his potential is his size. It was apparent when the Thunder played the Memphis Grizzlies and Kenneth Lofton Jr. continued to back Holmgren down to get to his spot.
Holmgren’s wingspan will help him recover from those scenarios at times, but it won’t be able to bail him out every time. He may struggle to build muscle this season because of the strenuous schedule rookies go through most of the time, but long-term, it’s a good bet that he’ll look to put on more muscle.
Out of the entire 2022 draft class, Holmgren possesses the most tools. Even though he lacks some size, I think Holmgren is in the best position to win the Rookie of the Year Award.