NBA

Chet Holmgren: Will Thunder rookie be a beast or a bust?

Chet Holmgren, who the Oklahoma City Thunder made the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, has generated a ton of conversation over whether he’ll be a beast or a bust as a pro.

And that’s understandable, as the Gonzaga product is a unique player — a rail-thin 7-footer with deft handles and an outside shot, not to mention shot-blocking skills on the defensive end. 

But after his sneak-peak performance in the Summer League, the conversation is starting to shift decidedly in a positive direction.

Skip Bayless certainly thinks so.

Is Chet Holmgren going to be a beast or a bust?

Is Chet Holmgren going to be a beast or a bust?

Skip Bayless speaks on Chet Holmgren’s potential and why he won’t be a bust for the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I haven’t seen this type of play since Bill Walton.”

“So it was two years ago that I began watching videos of a 7-foot, white center from Minneapolis named Chet Holmgren,” Bayless said on his podcast, “The Skip Bayless Show.” “I was mesmerized. I hadn’t seen this caliber of shooting skill, handle, passing gift, quick jumping ability, and shot-blocking anticipation since Bill Walton.”

Bayless added: “And the Chet Holmgren that we’ve seen so far in Summer League already has demonstrated to me that he can have a legit impact on NBA basketball games. Chet Holmgren is far closer to a beast than a bust.”

Holmgren hasn’t disappointed in Summer League, averaging 14.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.4 blocks over five games. OKC is 4-1 in those games.

Still, Bayless has some reservations about getting too bullish on Holmgren’s future, mostly due to his lack of weight.

“Yet, it’s still obviously very difficult for me to put beast and Chet in the same sentence,” he said. “Because the 7-foot-1-inch kid still weighs all of 195 pounds. He is still so skinny that the idea of beast is still far out in the future.”

Bayless did recount situations where Holmgren looked outmatched and flustered, specifically in the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m watching closely, especially in the NCAAs, and he runs up against Memphis and then Arkansas, and he looked overmatched, athletically and physically,” Bayless said. “In Summer League games already, you can see the extraordinary skill on full display. The step-back 3s, the little left-handed jump-hooks in the lane. He made 15 of his first 15 free throws,  taking the ball off the backboard and long-striding, it just takes my breath away.”

Bayless continued.

“But he’s been bullied on occasion. He will drift for long stretches. … He’s going to have to get a little more selfish. He’s going to have to realize that he’s got to play with more urgency, more intensity, just ultimately more force of will.”

Bayless emphasized his respect for Sam Presti, citing that Oklahoma City’s general manager passed on Jabari Smith Jr. to select Holmgren.

“The upside is just too great to pass up Chet Holmgren,” Bayless said.


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