The No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, Chet Holmgren, set the basketball world on fire in his first summer league game. With 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 blocks, he was clearly the most dominant player on the court.
His style of play is unique, and his potential has no ceiling. However, after many fans boarded the hype train after that game, he had a less stellar performance the next day.
The game wasn’t necessarily bad, recording an 11-point double-double. However, what caught the attention of the viewers was his inability to guard Kenny Lofton Jr. Although I am one of the biggest fans of Lofton, the guy went undrafted. If you put the No. 2 pick against an undrafted player and have them guard each other, the No. 2 pick should not be getting outplayed.
With one great game and one of a lesser standard under his belt, the mystery of Chet Holmgren still remains. Whether he will live up to his ability or sink under the higher level of competition remains unknown, and I’m here to analyze whether the Chet Holmgren hype is warranted so early.
Chet shined bright during his first game, with the previous stat-line being mentioned. He broke the NBA Summer League single-game block record and is already on a path to breaking it again. He shot 7-9 from the field, 4-5 from three, and knocked down all of his 5 free throws.
Off the books, he moved like the athlete we all know he is. He makes his way up and down the court with ease, and his ability to handle the ball from the perimeter as a seven-footer is incredible. He showed his shooting prowess, his quickness, and his touch throughout the game.
Chet showed his potential in his first game with the Thunder, showing just how versatile he is. Even when he ended up out of position on defense, his size and length put him in a good position to block shots. However, his second game wasn’t so sweet.
The first impression I got from watching the second Summer League game against the Grizzlies was a bit surprising. After the Thunder win the jump ball and score, the Grizzlies go down the court, give Lofton the ball at the high post, and he just backs Holmgren down with no trouble and bullies him into the paint for an easy shot.
Although I was excited to see the matchup and watch them duke it out, my hopes were immediately dowsed by this play. Although Chet came back and made a three from the top of the key, he was getting pushed around the entire offensive possession.
Directly after this play, the Grizzlies go down the court and pass the ball to Lofton on the wing. This time from almost the three-point line, he backs Holmgren down again, and before you could blink, Lofton was back on the board.
Next Grizzlies possession, Lofton pulls up for three on Holmgren and drains it. I could go on and on about the game, but it was really just the same thing all the way through. Holmgren would get a tough bucket, and Lofton would score an easier one.
Lofton got out-rebounded, and that makes sense due to the height difference. Chet still held his own, but Lofton outscored him by 8. In a tournament where players are trying to prove themselves for the next level, you can’t get bullied by an undrafted player just because he’s strong because once you hit the league, there are the Zions that are even stronger.
Boarding the Hype Train?
Holmgren is good, and he proved it in his first game in the Summer League. Despite what I’ve said, I think he’s an incredibly valuable player and his skills will transition to the next level. Maybe I’m just not giving Lofton the credit he deserves.
However, regardless of the two outcomes, it is plainly just too early to tell. Holmgren had one up and one down, and there are sure to be many more to come. I still recommend caution for riding the Holmgren wave, because there are heavy flaws that need fixing. Confidence is important, but being confident and only being able to use it for about half a game isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Holmgren is great, and Lofton is too. We just need more time to tell. I believe his draft hype is warranted, but after a couple of performances in the NBA Summer League, I don’t think the hype should be where it is.
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