chet holmgren
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Chet Holmgren was the very first No. 1 pick of ESNY’s 2022 NBA Mock Draft series. Better yet, he has never been lower than pick No. 3 in any of our mocks. He is one of one in this 2022 NBA Draft class. There isn’t anyone else who looks or plays like him.

It’s tough to find many faults in Holmgren’s game. It’s even tougher to figure out where his ceiling can be. He’s a unique prospect who has been on the radar of NBA scouts for the better part of the last three years.

In all likelihood, Holmgren is yet another top prospect that won’t be there for the New York Knicks to draft. Unless they jump up from 11 into the top four, there is almost no hope that Holmgren winds up in New York. But hey, crazier things have happened.

7’0”, 195, F/C, Gonzaga (2002)

Strengths: Defensive Instincts, Offensive Versatility

There is so much to love about Holmgren’s game that it’s tough to know where to start. Let’s begin with defense first. His 3.7 blocks per game are proof-positive that Holmgren has a knack for protecting the rim, but that doesn’t tell the full story.

With his current size and frame, Holmgren is more of a four than a five. As a power forward, he has more freedom to roam as an over-the-top helper. In this role, Holmgren’s defensive instincts shine. He knows when to bring the double team and has the length to recover after helping.

As for his offense, Holmgren is already a gifted finisher at the rim. What he lacks in strength, he makes up for in touch and finesse. There are even encouraging signs for the Minneapolis native as a playmaker out of the post and short roll.

As a shooter, Holmgren can be a bit streaky. He goes on torrid stretches where it seems like he can’t miss followed up by cold stretches where the basket looks like a thimble. The stroke is clean and he has the length to shoot over every defender. The consistency will come with experience and reps.

Weaknesses: Strength, Injuries

It doesn’t take an NBA scout to see that Holmgren needs to add muscle. He’s thin as a rail and can get bullied by stronger players. At times, Holmgren tries to overcompensate for this and winds up in foul trouble. The young big man is going to be playing in a grown man’s league. His talent will only be able to take him so far. He needs to beef up a bit to survive the physicality at the next level.

This transitions to the other concern with Holmgren — injury issues. He’s stayed healthy during his career thus far, but the size and frame can’t be ignored. Players with unique body types can be prone to injuries in the high-paced NBA environment. We have seen it happen with tall, lanky guys like Kristaps Porzingis on one end of the spectrum and Zion Williamson on the other.

I hope I’m completely wrong and Holmgren goes on to play 20+ healthy seasons in the NBA, but it would be disingenuous to ignore these concerns completely. There’s no doubt that NBA front offices are taking this into account in the evaluation process.

Fit With the Knicks

I try to avoid one-to-one comparisons when evaluating players. For the most part, the “Prospect X looks like Player Y” comparisons fall short. In these situations, the evaluator is doing one of two things: putting the player in a box or setting unrealistic expectations.

Sorry, I can’t help myself with Holmgren. He looks similar to a young Porzingis in almost every way. The ranginess as an over-the-top defender, the streaky shooting, and the thin frame gives off Porzinigis vibes.

Ironically, this is the kind of player who could flourish on this current Knicks roster. Tom Thibodeau loves rim protectors and Holmgren’s instincts will add to that aspect of the defense. Offensively, Holmgren should mesh nicely with RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley.

Is he a center or power forward? It doesn’t really matter. He’s a dynamic athlete who can fill niches on either end of the court. Thibs is as rigid as they come with rotations and positions, but Holmgren’s versatility could be enough to convince the two-time Coach of the Year to change his ways.

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NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.