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2022 NBA Draft Film Room Analysis: Chet Holmgren

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

Good luck to opponents trying to score at the rim with Chet Holmgren manning the paint. Nearly 13 percent of the other team’s two-point shots were blocked by the 7-foot-plus center when he was on the court for Gonzaga this past season. Only Auburn’s Walker Kessler had a higher block percentage during the 2021-22 season among this year’s NBA Draft prospects than Holmgren, whose 3.7 blocks per game average ranked first in the WCC and fourth in the nation. 

He tied Brandon Clarke for the most rejections in a single season in Gonzaga history with 117 of them and twice amassed seven of them in a game, including against Georgia State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. 

It’s not just his length that makes him a great shot blocker. He also has outstanding timing, balance, and instincts, which he showcased time after time this past season. Sometimes he’d block the shot of an opponent who backed him down in the post, while other times he’d chase down an opponent in transition or slide over from the weak side to negate a layup. 

Rarely in college was Holmgren ever out of position defensively, especially in pick-and-roll coverages. His IQ is incredibly high for someone his age. He also moves his feet fairly well at his size. That’s not to say he’s always going to stay in front of speedy ball handlers on switches, but even in times when they were able to get around him, Holmgren’s mobility and length made it tough for them to get clean shots off. He makes up ground so quickly that opponents rarely have enough space to avoid a contest from him. 

On the offensive end, Holmgren is a Renaissance man. He can do a little bit of everything, although it remains to be seen if he can turn into an elite shot creator at the next level. He’s functional across the board, nonetheless.

He can dribble (around traffic and in transition); he can shoot (made 39 percent of his 105 3-point attempts); he has great hands (caught several alley-oop lobs for dunks); he has a soft touch inside (made 87.6 percent of his shots at the rim and led the nation in two-point field goal percentage); he can pass (probably his most underrated skill); and he has impressive footwork (both in post-ups and face-ups). 

While not the fastest with the ball in his hands, he made a few nifty moves this past season, including dribbling behind the back to elude UCLA’s Myles Johnson before flying in for a dunk. He also a couple times showed off a Dirk Nowitzki-esque one-legged fadeaway jumper.

As mentioned earlier, Holmgren is a very underrated passer. That’s not to suggest he will be a Nikola Jokic-type point center in the NBA, but he makes excellent reads such as the one below in which he saw the double team coming and whipped a pass out to the corner for a wide open 3-pointer by Nolan Hickman. 

Most of Holmgren’s 3-pointers came from above the break (shot 37.7 percent from there), but where he shot the 3-ball the best was from the left wing (43.8 percent). Rarely was he stationed in the corners, but he did knock down three of his five attempts from the 3-point corners. 

For him to transform into a prolific scorer, though, he must add more to his offensive repertoire. He stated during an ESPN interview at the draft lottery that he believes he will be able to showcase more of that in the NBA than he did in college.

“I feel like my ability to create my own shot and score on my own will definitely be on display,” he told Malika Andrews, Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins during the interview. 

He also later said he thinks he can be a 50-40-90 player. Only nine players in NBA history have accomplished that in a single season.

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Video courtesy of Gonzaga University Athletics