He came in with a lot of hype and anticipation, and in his first professional appearance, Chet Holmgren shone.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder, donned the blue jersey for the first time in the NBA Summer League on Tuesday.
The Summer League is an off-season competition in which teams predominantly compete against rookies, sophomores, and fringe players of the NBA to develop talent and see who fits and who doesn’t.
In the 98-77 win over the Utah Jazz, Holmgren wowed fans in his record-breaking 24 minutes on the court.
The 20-year-old big man finished with 23 points — including 4 of 6 attempts from three-point range — seven rebounds and four assists.
He also finished with six blocks, the most ever in an NBA Summer League game.
When told afterwards that he broke the block record, Holmgren said he wanted more. “Only six? Is that the record? Oh, well, I’m coming to break it again,” he said said ESPN in his TV interview after the game.
According to ESPN, Holmgren became the first player in Summer League history to record at least five blocks and hit four three-pointers.
Holmgren played alongside many of the Thunder’s young talents – Josh Giddey, Alekesej Pokusevski, Jaylin Williams and Jalen Williams – and was immediately noticeable for his height and shooting ability.
Gonzaga’s seven-footer rounded out the suit with his size and displayed some of the sly offensive skills he’s already learned.
He dunked the ball forcefully to score his first points, hitting a three-point shot in the face of seven-foot-six tall Tacko Fall and hitting a faded center-range shot that bore an uncanny resemblance to NBA Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki .
“Shout out to my teammates for setting me up, talking to me and just putting me in a position to be successful,” Holmgren said with his arm around Giddey.
“Call this guy here,” he said, pointing at Giddey. “Double-double with assists. Great night for him and that helped me a lot.”
Giddey was effusive in his praise for Holmgren. “The hype he came in with, the way he played tonight was big for us,” said the Australia guard.
“As a high pick like that, there’s a lot of pressure that comes in and he handled that as best he could. It makes my job easier to play with someone like him. He can stretch the floor, finish at the edge. He protects me, he supports me on the defensive. So love playing with him. It was a game and the chemistry just keeps getting stronger.”
The Thunder coaching staff were also impressed by Holmgren’s debut performance.
“I found him really good offensively. What impressed me the most about him was how well he played our style,” said Thunder Summer League coach Kameron Woods.
“He obviously had a great game but the most impressive thing for me was that he did it on our offense. It looked like team basketball out there and he found success in what we do.”