Chet Holmgren’s “bet on yourself” message embodies 2nd overall pick

The Oklahoma City Thunder have spent the last year preparing for the 2022 NBA draft, and throughout the pre-draft process it was clear they were circling Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren as their man. When the 2022 NBA draft lottery went in their favor and the Thunder got some much-needed lottery luck, that dream became a reality for both sides.

Throughout this process, the seven-footed sentinel-like abilities had a clear message: “Bet on yourself.” After receiving an invitation to the 2022 NBA Draft Green Room, all eyes turned to these prospects’ stylish suits, from Paolo Banchero’s eye-catching purple to Tari Eason’s eye-catching lime green. Chet Holmgren opted for a standard black-on-black suit, but his jewelry meant much more.

Chet Holmgren, OKC Thunder’s 2nd overall winner, bet on himself, now the Thunder are doing the same

Chet Holmgren might have opted for an understated suit, but his jewelry was anything but. The Gonzaga center wore a large pair of diamond dice on a braided necklace with a simple message behind it: “Bet on yourself.”

Holmgren is an awkward-looking seven-footer at just 195 pounds. He plays like a guard with his grab-and-go ability while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc, protecting the rim at elite level, and being underrated for his frame.

Still, that awkward-looking frame didn’t stop him from dominating the collegiate ranks and working his way into a position to be the second pick overall in Thursday’s draft. Now OKC relies on Holmgren.

After the Orlando Magic made a shocking first-place pick, picking Paolo Banchero out of Duke, when the entire NBA world (including the industry’s top newsbreaker) thought the Magic would pick Jabari Smith Jr.

Smith Jr., the number one pick on my board, dropped to second after only working for the top two teams in the draft because his agency believed he wouldn’t drop to the Houston Rockets, Thunder general manager Sam Presti had an interesting choice to make.

Would it be Chet Holmgren, who had been Presti’s target all along? Or the surprise fall in Jabari Smith Jr.? The OKC Thunder stayed true to its preliminary work and selected Chet Holmgren.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are backing Chet Holmgren, and it’s a risk they think is worth. When Holmgren reaches his ceiling, he will be a player we’ve never seen before. His path to being in the top 10 or 15 players in that league would be a seven-footer who can facilitate an offense by running the game through him, which includes passing the post as well as handling the ball and shooting the three-ball at one Elite clip, hit inside and put defensive pressure on the rim with his shot blocking ability.

While Jabari Smith Jr. would be a “safer” option, a clean would fit alongside Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and have a clearer path to his absolute cap. Smith Jr’s perks take no imagination while Holmgren needs to reinvent the game.

As we all know, Sam Presti lives by the saying “fear doesn’t make money,” and this is another bet he thinks is worth.

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