Two things seem to be true about how former Minnehaha Academy and Gonzaga star Chet Holmgren is perceived by most high-profile NBA mock drafts: He is the most intriguing prospect in next week’s real draft, and there’s little chance he’ll be the first player selected.
If the consensus is correct, that honor will go to Auburn small forward Jabari Smith.
Orlando, Oklahoma City, Houston and Sacramento currently hold the top four picks in Thursday’s draft (6:30 p.m., ESPN).
For the Magic, the idea of teaming the 7-foot Holmgren with former high school teammate Jalen Suggs is tantalizing. But Orlando already has three unique big men on its roster in Jonathan Isaac, Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba.
With Smith the projected No. 1 pick, where does Holmgren land? There is a consensus:
ESPN: Holmgren selected No. 2 overall by Oklahoma City
- “The franchise’s rebuild is viewed with increasing favor, as a strong coaching staff, player-development infrastructure, organizational culture and trove of players assembled should allow OKC to quickly pivot toward respectability. Adding a 7-footer with a 7-6 wingspan to that core, one who projects as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate with the mobility, timing and competitiveness Holmgren offers, makes perfect sense.”
CBS Sports: Holmgren selected No. 2
- “You couldn’t design a player in a lab more suited for the current iteration of the Thunder than Holmgren. Based on skill alone, he’d likely be the consensus top pick in this draft, but concerns about his slight frame aren’t without merit. Personally, I’m not too concerned about the lack of size given the offense-friendly officiating in the modern NBA, and Holmgren’s rare combination of rim protection, shooting ability, rebounding and basketball IQ could eventually make him a perennial All-Star.”
The Ringer: Holmgren selected No. 2
- “Holmgren fills a need in the frontcourt with his rim protection and shot-altering defense. The Thunder already have playmakers in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, so Holmgren can feast off their creativity as a spot-up shooter and paint finisher. But Holmgren also displayed some passing chops of his own at Gonzaga, so he could be utilized as a creator from the perimeter, elbows, and on the short roll.”
NBC Sports: Holmgren selected No. 2
- “The Thunder/Sonics franchise has picked No. 2 twice before and each time they found a Hall of Famer (Kevin Durant and Gary Payton). Whether Holmgren can be that good or not, he would be a great fit in OKC where defense and length are coveted and outside shooting is desperately needed. Holmgren would develop early on as an ideal complement to guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey.”
Yahoo Sports: Holmgren selected No. 2
- “Like the Magic, the Thunder have gone through the process of working out multiple players who are expected to be off the board by the midway point of the lottery. And Holmgren is one of those talents, with the 7-footer out of Gonzaga having the look of a potential foundation piece for this rebuilding franchise. Will Holmgren need to get stronger? Yes, but that can be said for about 90% of draft prospects, regardless of year. But he can stretch defenses out beyond the 3-point line, a welcome quality when considering the fact that Oklahoma City was dead last in 3-point percentage this season (but 7th in attempts). Add in the defensive ability, and Holmgren stands to be a very good fit in Oklahoma City.”
NBADraft.net: Holmgren selected No. 4 by Sacramento
- One of the rarest of players to come along in years … His combination of shooting, passing, shot blocking and speed and agility along with feel for the game is truly special. His upside is sky high, but questions linger about how his body will develop and how he will be able to handle the rigors of an NBA season as a post player with such an obvious weakness to his game … For a team that feels they can bulk him up sufficiently, he presents the ultimate swing for the fences pick in this year’s draft.
Not everyone believes Holmgren is out of the race for the first overall selection.
USA Today: Holmgren selected No. 1 Orlando
- “Despite recent reporting, it’s not a lock that the Magic select Auburn’s Jabari Smith. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor recently reported that his sources are “not sold” on the rumors that Orlando has made up its mind, and I still believe Holmgren fits the mold of what the Magic tend to like from prospects. Holmgren, who looks massively tall even when standing next to NBA legends like David Robinson and Dirk Nowitzki, is a fascinating prospect and I think he will hear his name called with the first pick in the draft. “
No matter where Holmgren lands, one thing is certain, he is confident in his ability to be a generational talent in the NBA. During the lottery, he appeared on ESPN and said he already has a clear goal.
That means shooting 50% from the field, 40% from three and 90% from the free throw line for an entire season. Only nine players in NBA history have accomplished it: Larry Bird, Malcolm Brogdon, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Price.
Last year at Gonzaga, Holmgren shot 61% from the field, 39% from three and 72% at the line.
Care to go deeper into the world of mock drafts? Here is a frquently-updated database of more than 20 mock drafts, including several lower-profile sites that have Holmgren or Duke forward Paolo Banchero going first overall.