The Washington Wizards have the 10th-best lottery odds for the 2022 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...
2022 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Profile: Chet Holmgren
2021/22 stats: 32 G, 14.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 3.7 bpg, 60.7 FG% (5.3/8.8), 39.0 3PT% (1.3/3.3), 71.7 FT% (2.2/3.1)
Player comparison: Pau Gasol, Kristaps Porzingis
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 2nd, Sports Illustrated 3rd, Ringer 2nd, Athletic 2nd, ESPN 1st, NBADraft.net 4th, Bleacher Report 1st
5 things to know:
- The first thing you'll notice about Holmgren -- other than his size -- is his impressive skill on both ends of the floor. He's an elite shot-blocker (5.4 blocks per 40 minutes!) who can move his feet with perimeter players just enough for his long arms to impact a shot attempt. His instincts are off the charts as a shot blocker. He then has the guard skills on offense to bring the ball up the floor himself, score at all three levels or make a play for a teammate. He's the complete package as a seven-footer.
- Aside from a dependable shooting stroke that should translate to the NBA, Holmgren is a sneaky-good finisher around the rim. He can score with either hand -- just as he can block shots with either hand -- and has the ball-handling and pedigree as a cutter to be an incredibly efficient offensive player. He shot nearly 74% on two-point attempts at Gonzaga, which is absurd.
- The primary concern about Holmgren's game is centered around his slender frame. At just 194 pounds, he'll need to add a lot of muscle to hold up against the true giants of the NBA, especially if he's going to play center. Holmgren's instincts and skills won't matter as much if he can't get positioning. He'll face similar obstacles Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis did when he entered the league in 2015.
- Holmgren won the Gatorade Men's Basketball Player of the Year Award in 2021 before going to Gonzaga as the No. 1 high school recruit in the country. He averaged 20.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 4.7 blocks and 4.4 assists on 68.2% shooting in his final high school season. Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal and Karl-Anthony Towns represent past winners of the award.
- Holmgren was always tall for his age, but from the start of eighth grade to the beginning of his freshman year of high school, he grew an astounding eight inches to get him up to 6-9. While he experienced growing pains during this time, his father Dave -- whose playing career was shortened by bad knees -- put Chet through physical therapy to work on his movement, posture, and core strength.
Fit with Wizards:
The Wizards would have to own a top-two, maybe top-three pick in this year's draft to land a player like Holmgren. However, if they happened to find themselves in that situation, Holmgren's fit on the current roster would be irrelevant. If he's available, you take him and figure the rest out later.
Right away, there'd be a bit of a unicorn log jam since the Wizards already have Kristaps Porzingis on the roster and signed through 2024 at the latest. They could theoretically play together as the power forward and center combination, but in reality, the Wizards would probably have to think about finding Porzingis a new home to free up minutes and shots for Holmgren.
That isn't necessarily an indictment on Porzingis or the way Washington has constructed its roster ahead of the 2022 offseason. Holmgren is simply too good to pass up simply because of need. He has a chance to be a generational talent and a seamless fit alongside Bradley Beal. The Wizards could potentially build a modern-era Kobe Bryant-Pau Gasol pairing, with a prolific scoring wing and a do-it-all big man that can lock down the paint on defense.