Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

NBA Starting 5, Nov. 30: OKC star Chet Holmgren on his road back

The OKC big man went from a season-ending injury to a starring role. Here's how the time off shaped him.

Last night saw two stars, Jamal Murray & CJ McCollum, back on the court for the first time in a month.

Today?

A rising star rook joins the Starting 5, as Chet Holmgren takes us inside his journey back. And how a year off from hoops shaped him.


THE LINEUP 🏀

  1. Must-see from Wednesday 👀
  2. Chet’s journey back  ⛈️
  3. Holmgren on giving back ⭐
  4. Magic push win streak to eight 🎱
  5. Nuggets stay unbeaten at home 🏠

📺  Pacers at Heat, 7:30 ET, NBA TV

📺  Clippers at Warriors, 10 ET, NBA TV

📲  7 more games in the NBA App

🏆  Knockouts: Bracket & Schedule


1. THURSDAY MORNING MUST-SEE 👀


2. CHET HOLMGREN: ‘IT’S NOT PROMISED’

Editor’s Note: Throughout the season, special guest contributors will pop in to give you takes on the game that only they can give.

Today, Chet Holmgren’s here.

After an injury knocked him out for all of the 2022-23 season, he worked on his game, his mind and his approach — far outside the spotlight. Now, in his first year in the league, he’s already making history.

How did his year off change him? Ahead of Thunder-Lakers tonight (8 ET, NBA App), get a heartfelt read from the star rook.

What are your goals for your first year?

Holmgren: My goals for the season are to show up every single day, day in and day out, and get better with my teammates.

I feel like we’ve done a great job of that so far in the games that we’ve played and we just have to continue to do that, whether it’s a recovery day, or a game day, or a travel day, whatever it might be.

We’re just trying to make the most of the time we have together. It’s a lot of time and it’s a long season. If you lose focus of the daily grind it’s easy to either not get better or get worse as a team, so my goals are to get better as a team each and every day and hopefully that puts us in a good spot towards the end of the season

What are the ways you worked on your mind while you were out?

The process of having to be out and sit through all of those different situations and scenarios just understanding everything I had been through and processing all of the emotions that went with it, it really helped me to, one, stay focused, but also two, to understand when I’m back, the gratitude to have for being able to play.

[I’m] not taking a single play, or a single day, or a single game for granted and really being able to lock in mentally every single day and every single rep, knowing that it’s not promised.

What are the ways you worked on your game when out?

When I was out, I couldn’t play 5-on-5, because the rest of the team was playing games and I had my recovery process going on so a lot of my workouts were working on individual skills and one-on-one skills.

So it was a lot of working on moves and doing things with the ball in my hands, and I feel like that really helped my individual game and my ability to make a play, whether it was to score or pass on my own.

I really feel the amount of time I had to work on that, I was able to work on a lot of different skills.

What were the most challenging parts of recovery?

It was a few things. One was the waiting part.

No matter how much rehab you do, no matter how many workouts you do, no matter how much film you watch, it doesn’t speed up the process of the body actually healing, which is very hard, because I’m not a sit-and-twiddle my thumbs type of person.

I’m a ‘what do I have to do to make this happen,’ type of person.

I’m always looking to the next thing that I have to try and do to reach an objective and sometimes during my rehab process that was just sit tight and let the body do what the body does, which was super tough.

Because of that the next toughest thing was continuing to have focus throughout all of it.

It’s easy to just think about how far you are from playing again and let that waver your focus, and think, ‘oh I’ll have time later to handle that,’ but I feel like I did a great job day in and day out of staying focused on what I had to do that day to be better and not letting that focus wander as I went through rehab.


3. ‘WHEN I GOT HURT THAT DIDN’T FALL OFF, EVEN A NOTCH.’

Holmgren’s also developed a close connection with the community in and around OKC – a bond that only grew stronger when he was out. 

What are the roots of your philanthropy and why is it so important to you?

The root is my perspective on everything and understanding that a lot of people helped me to get where I am, which helps me understand that when you’re in a position to help others, you should do so.

What may seem like a little bit of help from you, could really help somebody go a long way, and understanding that and trying to give other people opportunity and what they might need in a certain situation is huge for me.

Thankfully I’m in a position now where I’m able to really make changes and make a big difference in the community and individual people’s lives, and I just really want to try and focus in on that and try and do my part.

How have the fans in OKC embraced you since you arrived?

Ever since I got here the fans have been nothing but welcoming and supportive.

Even when I got hurt that didn’t fall off, even a notch.

They have supported me this whole time and I believe what comes around goes around, and vice versa.

I just wanted to show my appreciation for their support by giving my support back to the community in different ways.

Whether it’s my foster-family Thanksgiving or coat drive or whatever it might be in the community I’m just trying to do my part to give back.

Holmgren comes into Thursday in the No. 1 spot in the Kia Rookie Ladder. Tap here to read more.


4. MAGIC 8 (GAME WIN STREAK) BALL 🎱

🔮 Magic 139, Wizards 120

🏀 Recap | ORL 13-5, WAS 3-15

  • Magic Offense: Led by Franz Wagner (31 pts), Cole Anthony (25) and Jalen Suggs (22), Orlando posted season-highs across the board – 139 points, 17 3s, 60.7% FG, 63% 3P – as they defeated the Wizards for their eighth straight win

🌇 Lakers 133, Pistons 107

🏀 Recap | LAL 11-8, DET 2-16

  • 3 for 88: The trio of D’Angelo Russell (season-high 35 pts), Anthony Davis (28) and LeBron James (25) combined for 88 points for L.A. as the Lakers bounced back from their worst loss since 2017 (-44) with a 26-point win

⚜️ Pelicans 124, Sixers 114

🏀 Recap | NOP 10-9, PHI 12-6

  • Zion Dominates: Williamson had a near-perfect game against the Embiid-less Sixers, finishing with 33 points on 11-12 shooting on FGs and FTs, while CJ McCollum added 20 points and five dimes in his return game after missing 12 (lung)

🦖 Raptors 112, Suns 105

🏀 Recap | TOR 9-10, PHX 11-7

  • Streak Snappers: Phoenix entered Wednesday riding a seven-game win streak since Devin Booker’s return. That streak ended in Toronto as Scottie Barnes (23 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast, 3 blk) and Pascal Siakam (22 pts, 9 reb) led the Raptors to the win

5. MURRAY RETURNS, NUGGETS STAY PERFECT AT HOME 🏠

⚒️ Nuggets 134, Rockets 124

🏀 Recap | DEN 13-6, HOU 8-8

  • On a mountain high:: Denver is better when Jamal Murray plays. After going 6-5 without him (hamstring), the Nuggets improved to 7-1 with him. Murray had 16 points (including a half-court 3), while Nikola Jokic (32 pts, 10 reb, 15 ast) posted his seventh triple-double

⛵ Clippers 131, Kings 117

🏀 Recap | LAC 8-9, SAC 10-7

🐻 Grizzlies 105, Jazz 91

🏀 Recap | MEM 4-13, UTA 6-12

  • First home win: Reigning Kia DPOY Jaren Jackson Jr. had six blocks and 20 points to lead the Grizzlies to their fourth win of the season and first in front of their home fans as Memphis snapped a four-game losing streak

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