NBA draft profile: Chet Holmgren, the most polarizing player in the draft

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Leading up to the NBA draft on Thursday, Yahoo Sports will highlight top prospects. Today's prospect is Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren.

Who is Chet Holmgren?

Chet Holmgren was the No. 1-ranked player coming out of high school and averaged 21 points and 12.3 rebounds his senior season. He was selected as a McDonald's All-American and also was honored with a roster spot on the Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic, the top prestigious All-Star games for high school seniors.

Holmgren committed to Gonzaga and Mark Few over Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina, Memphis, Georgetown and the G League.

There was a lot of hype surrounding Gonzaga going into the 2021-22 college season. Even though the Bulldogs lost their star point guard, Jalen Suggs, to the NBA, they had Holmgren coming in and power forward Drew Timme and point guard Andrew Nembhard returning.

During Holmgren's one year at Gonzaga, he dominated conference play, recording eight double-doubles and averaging 15.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game during the second half of the season.

Chet Holmgren's strengths as a pro

He's undoubtedly an elite rim protector and one of the best defenders in the country on the weak-side block, recording 117 blocks last season.

Offensively, he's uniquely different from other 7-footers in the league and can handle the ball like a guard, taking players off the dribble from the perimeter or bringing the ball up after a missed shot. Holmgren ranked in the 93rd percentile and averaged 1.4 points per possession in transition, according to Synergy Sports.

Holmgren has been a consensus top-three draft pick all season long and all three teams at the top — the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets — all need help in the frontcourt and rim protection. If Orlando picked him with the No. 1 overall pick, Holmgren would be reunited with his high school and AAU teammate, Suggs.

"We have a lot of game minutes logged together," Holmgren told Shams Charania of Stadium. "Just for the stars to align and to be able to play together again would be crazy, and if it does happen, I think we would be beyond excited to play together again."

Chet Holmgren's questions at the next level

The only thing that would give the Magic pause in selecting 7-foot-1, 195-pound center Chet Holmgren with the No. 1 overall pick is his size.

He struggled to bang in the post with stronger forwards and centers at the college level, but always bounced right back up and moved on to the next play if he got beat.

There has never been a player quite like Holmgren and opinions are split among NBA fans as to whether or not he'll pan out as pro and potential All-Star.

What scouts are saying

NBA scouts love his versatility and think the spacing in the NBA will cater to Holmgren instead of being forced to play inside with Timme in a system with a more set offense.

“His intangibles are off the chart,” one NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. “He’s so unique physically with all the other skills and abilities, and if you’re willing to take that home run swing, he’s totally worth it.”

Whether it's the Magic that take a swing-for-the-fences chance on Holmgren and reunite him with his former teammate who he already has established chemistry with or the Thunder where he could be catching lobs from Josh Giddey, Holmgren will not have to wait long to hear his name called on draft night.

Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren warms up before a game this season. He is projected as a top-three NBA draft pick on June 23. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren warms up before a game this season. He is projected as a top-three NBA draft pick on June 23. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

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