MINNEAPOLIS – Chet Holmgren is the youngest Minnesotan-born winner of the NBA lottery draft.
The former Minnehaha Academy and Gonzaga star was ranked No. 2 overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. Holmgren had a chance to be reunited with former Redhawks teammate Jalen Suggs, who was drafted by the Orlando Magic last year. But the Magic chose to pick Duke guard Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 pick overall.
Holmgren took the stage in a black suit and carried a necklace with two dice, one with a #3 and the other with a #4. They represent his #34 jersey at Gonzaga. It adds up to 7, which is the number he wore for Team USA last year when he won a gold medal. After shaking hands with NBA Commissioner David Silver, he spoke about being the No. 2 overall.
“Yeah, it’s a mix of emotions, probably a thousand emotions, all the best. You know I don’t really have words to describe her but I’m so blessed and grateful to be here. I’m ready to compete. I’m ready to play,” Holmgren said Thursday night.
Holmgren, a 7-foot, 195-pound center, is a match-up nightmare for most opponents. In 32 games with Gonzaga, he averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game en route to the Second Team All-American, finalist for Defensive Player of the Year and one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy.
He can score on the inside, pass from doubles teams, shoot from the perimeter, and even take defenders out of dribbling. He shot 73.7 percent from the ground in a season with Gonzaga, including 39 percent from the perimeter. His defensive presence and ability to block shots also make him a rim protector. He is most often compared to Kevin Durant.
Speaking on ESPN’s NBA Draft Thursday night, Kendrick Perkins said, “If Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kristaps Porzingis have a baby, you’re going to have Chet Holmgren.”
Holmgren went to Gonzaga as a McDonald’s All-American and the No. 1 recruit in the country. His NBA dream is now officially a reality and he will call Oklahoma City home.
Holmgren is now the earliest Minnesotan ever drafted into the NBA. Kevin McHale was picked 3rd overall by the Boston Celtics in 1980.
“I try to live with as few expectations as possible so I can be fully in the moment. That’s one of the greatest things I’ve attempted today, and one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve gotten from many different people. Stay in the moment, absorb it all because it moves fast and you can’t relive it,” Holmgren said. “I went 100 percent with the flow today and look where we are.”