Since the end of the 2021-22 NCAA basketball season, attention has turned to the 2022 NBA draft. While there’s an abundance of talent, the top 3 picks seem like relatively safe bets. Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero are likely to be the first names to be mentioned. Now it remains to be seen where each player will end up.
Though Holmgren is largely considered a second pick overall, there could be a late crease in the process. The big man has not provided medical information to some teams, according to Matt Babcock. While that could help him find the ideal landing spot, it could also cost the former Gonzaga Bulldog millions of dollars.
Chet Holmgren will be a lottery winner but he might put some teams off
While it’s fair to have some questions about his physicality, Chet Holmgren’s unique blend of height and skill makes him an irresistible NBA prospect. However, some developments in the preliminary design process could affect where he ends up.
“We currently have Chet Holmgren in 2nd place, but I’m not very confident that it will actually play out that way. Will Oklahoma City even stick with this election? Sam Presti is known as a trader and trader. The Thunder could take Paolo Banchero or even Jaden Ivey,” said BasketballNews.com Senior Draft Analyst Matt Babcock. “I’ve also heard that Holmgren hasn’t shared his medical information with the teams (at least most of them) and hasn’t conducted the NBA’s heart screening. That could indicate that his agents are trying to tamper with the draft and steer Holmgren somewhere, which is probably the most likely scenario. However, I don’t know which team that would be.”
While the latter part of this statement may seem bizarre, it is not entirely unprecedented. For example, in 2018, Michael Porter Jr. did not share his medical records with NBA teams. Instead, he allowed the Bulls’ doctors to examine his back and then shared this report (h/t Sactown Royalty). According to Deadspin, a total of 11 players from the 2018 draft refused to undergo a league-wide physical exam.
On the team side, it’s understandable why this reality might pause a front office. While there are no particular concerns about Holmgren’s health, spending millions of dollars is quite a risk. While it may sound a bit crude to say – after all, it’s about people, not property – you want to make sure that every investment is as safe as possible.
Targeting a specific team could lead to a successful NBA career, but it could also cost Holmgren millions
From afar, it’s easy to see why Holmgren and his camp might try to ensure he joins (or avoids) a particular team. NBA careers can be brief, and legacies are made in the metaphorical blink of an eye. While there’s a certain appeal to joining the Oklahoma City Thunder — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks like real talent, Josh Giddey has potential, and Lu Dort is filling a vital 3-and-D role — perhaps Holmgren and his camp are scared to rebuild yourself by beating one. Perhaps the big man has his heart set on joining Jalen Green at Houston, believing the guard would unleash his offensive potential. With all the fighting in Sacramento, the big man might want to play a two-man game with De’Aaron Fox. It’s all speculation at this point.
However, with all the potential benefits of choosing a landing site, there is a financial downside. If we assume that Holmgren moves down the draft rather than up – which seems a lot easier to manipulate – he would be costing himself money with every spot. This year, the second overall pick will be guaranteed just over $26 million over three years, assuming their team exercises the option. The third overall pick will earn approximately $23 million over the same period; the fifth pick will take home a little less than $21 million.
While one could argue that it’s worth sacrificing a few million to end up in a better environment, the decision is still a risky one. If Holmgren doesn’t adjust to the physicality of professional basketball, this first contract could be the biggest payday of his life. In this case, leaving $5 million on the table with no material benefit would seem pretty silly.
In theory, however, Holmgren trusts both his people and his talent. Only time will tell if it works for him.
Salary information courtesy of Real GM
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