Among the best prospects in the NBA draft, there is no one more polarizing than former Gonzaga great Chet Holmgren.
When talking to staff around the league, there is a greater sense of security in the type of players former Duke striker Paolo Banchero and Auburn striker Jabari Smith Jr. will be at the next level.
There seem to be several different opinions about Holmgren – mainly because players with his skills and size are rare.
“With Chet, [there are] skills that a great man usually does not have, ”said Ryan Blake, who has helped lead NBA scouting services since 1996, in a recent phone call with the Orlando Sentinel.
Holmgren’s combination of rim protection, defensive versatility, handles, touch near the rim, basketball IQ and floor spacing in relation to his size make him one of the more distinctive prospects for a while. There are beliefs that he could become the type of player who could excel at anchoring a defense and at the same time be an offensive focal point.
At the same time, there are concerns about how Holmgren will cope with the NBA’s physical properties at both ends of the floor with his slender frame (7 feet, 190 pounds), and whether he will be the type of offensive creator normally expected of top picks.
The Magic should have a better idea of the answers to these questions after their management of basketball operations met with Holmgren on Wednesday and Thursday prior to the draft on June 23rd.
He completed all pre-draft protocols with Magic, a league source told the Orlando Sentinel, though the details of those protocols were not revealed.
Holmgren dominated in the transition, accounting for 22.7% of his offensive consumption (1.40 points per possession) according to Synergy.
He has the ability to act as a rhyme runner as well as lead the fastbreaker like a ball dealer who shows comfort by talking the ball up the floor coast to coast or pulling up from beyond the arc with accuracy.
Holmgren is a spot-up threat, a good cutter (1.46 points per possession) and should work more as a roll-man in pick and roll more often in the NBA than he did in college (8.5% spending). He made good decisions that fit out of the post and on the go with Gonzaga.
Defensively, he is light enough on his feet to guard the perimeter, does a good job of staying vertical when competing and has the size / length (7-foot-6 wing catcher) to protect the rim even when he is not blocking shots. .
He should get stronger when he is in an NBA team’s strength and conditioning program and also improve as a teammate. Whether he will improve enough in both areas to turn these concerns into strengths is still unknown.
Holmgren had an average of 14.1 points (60.7% from the field – 73.7% on 2s, 39% on 3s), 9.9 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 1.9 assists in his only season with the Bulldogs. He was named a second-team All-American and West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
His potential is clear.
And with his size and versatility at both ends, he would fit into what the Magic already have and potentially help make them a defensive elite team because of his presence.
But Holmgren’s unique character has created uncertainty about the player he will become.
For Magic, it’s part of the job – to project not only who the prospects are now as basketball players, but who they want to be.
“[Holmgren] can make a difference at both ends of the floor, ”Blake said. “[He] can score and create … know the game [and] make others better. ”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price on email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.