There are moments when the court is not crowded.It's hard to imagine Holmgren as a basketball player. These moments typically occur after Holmgren either blocks a shot or grabs a defensive rebound. After these seemingly mundane events, Holmgren speeds up the court, each dribble covering approximately 20 feet and does not stop until he has slammed it through the hoop at the other end.
Holmgren is 20 years old, 7 feet tall, and weighs in at less than 200lbs. Holmgren looks like he could lift his arms above his head and take a bath in a garden sprayer. His wingspan is 7-foot-6. His knees appear disembodied when he sits down on the court prior to the game. He stretches his legs, putting his soles of the shoes together and pushing his elbows against his inner thighs. In those moments, his body moves the distance with grace and power. These are two things you wouldn't guess if you were to look at him. After those moments, it can feel almost as if the ground opens to reveal the most rare of things: something completely new.
A game against San Francisco University, in Holmgren’s last year at Gonzaga. He grabbed a rebound from the net and did an observational dribble. He was able to see the court clearly without being tripped up. He began to accelerate and became the world's largest, most skinny big rig, seeing that no one was paying attention. The USF players didn't believe in the power to limitless possibilities at the time and didn't seem to be interested in stopping him. Each one assumed Holmgren would see the absurdity of his act and stop himself. They watched him cross half court and then watched as he crossed the free throw line. Then they saw him grab the ball with both his hands and jump into the air to throw it through the hoops with primal force.
These moments can be wild and difficult to identify, but they are always followed by some collective reflection. Holmgren's energy is exponentially multiplied by the element surprise. Physics cannot account for the courage of an act. Holmgren's expression is unchanged as always. Holmgren's expression of incredulity is constantly practiced by everyone around him — basketball games offer a masterclass in performative incredulity – but he still retains the loose-jawed, heavy-lidded look of the ever-impressed.
It feels like an experiment. What happens if one of the most visible players on the court decides that he wants to play the game as though he is the only one there?
Holmgren was a consensus top three pick in the draft. He averaged 14.2 points, 9.9 rebound and almost four blocks per game at Gonzaga.Duke's . The majority of prognosticators predict Smith will go first to Orlando and Holmgren following in Oklahoma City. However, pre-draft posturing may be the best. lingua franca The NBA. Smith and Banchero are two other players who can be found in every draft. They are smooth-shooting, solid-looking plug-and–play guys who promise to be The next 10 years. Holmgren is a 7-foot, 3-point shooting, 7-footer who plays the ball like a point-guard. Holmgren could also play as an offensive wing player and will lead the league in blocked shots for the next 10 years.
Talent evaluators and high-ranking decision-makers will have to grapple with the same issues as the USF Dons. In the parlance of the industry, Holmgren is the ultimate high-ceiling/low-floor player. If he plays to his talent, which he did at Gonzaga where he was a student of AAU and high school, he will be a great player.He'll be a generational player. His narrow frame could get tossed around by large men who are paid huge sums to do such things. He might be sent to the exurbs where his skills will be reduced.
The word will be heard, no doubt. Unicorn A lot of draft night has resulted in it becoming the easiest and most efficient way to describe Holmgren’s unique physique. Unicorn It is intended to be a compliment but it is dismissive, unfair, and a rhetorical surrender. Unicorns — Apologies— don't exist. Holmgren is alive and well, with bone, flesh, and very little fat. The teams at the top must face the reality of Holmgren's existence and what it might all mean.
Chet Holmgren’s story as a basketball player may begin with Larry Suggs, the legendary Minneapolis-St. Paul coach and father of Magic guard. He was also last year's No. Jalen, the Gonzaga star and 5 pick pick Jalen said that he received a phone call from a friend stating that he had a 6-foot third-grader who could really play.
The elder Suggs replied, “Tell me more.”
“The kid's fearless. He can climb trees. He can climb trees and is often on top of his house's roof. His football team's linebacker. He is fearless.”
Suggs replied, “Sounds like my kinda kid.” “Six-foot tall, climbing trees, hanging out at the roof, not afraid of anything?” “I've got to meet him.”
Suggs is seated in his backyard, in a leafy St. Paul area. He laughs and rolls both his eyes. He laughs and rolls his eyes, then claps his hand and settles in for a great story. “First, this kid was not 6 feet tall. Tall yes, but not six feet tall. Think of your worst grammar school friend, who couldn’t play basketball. You know how to make layups in two-line fashion. Couldn’t make a layup. Couldn't dribble. He was air-balling.”
Chet Holmgren may have been at the gym in cargo shorts for his first practice — Cole Ewald, a teammate, claims he did. However, it's clear that he was 8 years old and gangly.
Holmgren said that she thought she was good because she had played rec league before. But then Holmgren says that she walked into the room and saw that everyone was really good. I quickly realized that I wasn't very good.
Team Grassroots sizzle — God bless AAU team names — was made up of eight-year-olds that played and won tournaments against eleven- and twelve-year-olds. Eight of the eight would go on to play Division I basketball or football, while two — both top-5 picks almost certain — would be in the NBA next year. Holmgren is to be credited for trying as hard as possible during his first practice. Holmgren didn't seem discouraged which was another plus. Suggs also says that he noticed a flickering of understanding in Chet's way he watched Jalen and the talent differences.
Suggs was aware that someone was standing in front of the doorway. David Holmgren stood at 7 feet tall and watched his son. Larry Suggs looked at David and then at Chet. The possibilities that were impossible seconds ago suddenly became possible.
Suggs asked Chet after practice, “So, are you sure you can play at this level like these guys?”
Chet looked him in his eyes and said simply “No.”
Suggs was impressed with the child's self-awareness. Holmgren says that while Holmgren wouldn't claim to have been self-aware at that time in his life, he said that he was wired to see what was going on. Suggs continued to be aware of the changes in the room after the dad, a 7-footer entered the gym.
“Would you like to be as great as these guys?”
Suggs stated, “Then, come every day and we'll teach you basketball.” “But you have to listen.”
David Holmgren spent two years at the University of Minnesota before his career was cut short due to chronic knee problems. His son is just as tall as him and he's as lean. It's easy to see Chet in about 35 years. David is a very countercultural person. He remembers chafing whenever he received a rebound. Every time, a coach would tell him to get it to a guard. His son could become anything in basketball, and the jury was out on that one. But he wanted him to be able to do more than just stand at the hoop with his hand in the air, and a defender behind. Chet was not David, David wanted him to be.
The timing and the place were perfect. The European style of coaching and playing was a major factor in the acceptance of 7-footers into the game. Dirk Nowitzki was a MVP.Larry Suggs believed the future was in Larry Suggs, who was also a man who believed every player had to be trained and coached just like a point-guard.
David Holmgren said to Suggs, “He's certainly not going be Shaq.” “Look at me. This He's who he is going to be.”
Chet Holmgren was eighth grade. He had gone from 6-2 to 6-10 in one year. That's an inch per six weeks! When Suggs started telling everyone who would listen that this child would one day be the No. The NBA draft selected the No. 1 pick.
Suggs thought about this before he made it. Suggs says that Chet was “terrible just terrible” for many years before the growth spurt and drive, when everything fell into place like a fortunate laboratory accident. Suggs looked at the list of Chet's players and couldn't find anyone he thought would be better.
After watching Chet play one-on-one after practice, he was able to see the talent gap shrink as the competitive fire grew. Brian Sandifer and he coached Chet according to their unique philosophy, “European basketball with iso game in the '80s,” Suggs explains. This meant that the Sizzle's point-guard was the one who was the tallest. Sandifer was the toughest player, with a mentality that was exemplified by T-shirts on the team that said “We Want all The Smoke.” Sandifer watched Holmgren and the opposing coaches and teams, nearly all Black, with suspicion before becoming enthralled by his toughness and game. Sandifer said, “Chet worked hard.” People respect people who can play. At the end of it all, if your skin is white and you're so good, people will respect you.
Chet's mom Sarah Harris says that David has been telling her for years that Chet would be very special and good. I was unable to stop my laughter. I was astonished.
David Holmgren said, “I saw it in fourth grade or fifth grade.” He started to use the ball in a way guards do, fluidly. Although he was still a raw ball player, I knew at that moment that he was going be very good.”
David Holmgren drove Team Sizzle from Milwaukee to Memphis and Chicago to various tournaments throughout the Midwest. He removed the soiled sneakers from his van and set them up on the roof each time they stopped for food, or to use the bathroom. “We weren't spoiled,” Chet Holmgren says. “We were nine deep in seven-seat cars with five people packed into hotel rooms and air mattresses on top. That was culture. We didn't get it.
Ewald recalls one player who was offered a spot on a team but chose to join another AAU team due to the better gear. Ewald says, “He chose a team that had shoes.” They were defeated by 20.
Suggs hired Aaron Delaney as a trainer to help Holmgren. His first words to Delaney were “I want to work alongside an eighth grader who's going be the first pick of the NBA draft.” Delaney, who is a former professional and college athlete in many sports, said “Cool.” He can quit the workout at any time, and I will not work with him again.
Holmgren walked into the gym, looking pale and thin. He was a bit hunched over.
This man is tall and strong.
But, a future top overall pick? What kid is this? Delaney couldn't stop laughing at Suggs because of his basketball knowledge that many believed could see the future.
Delaney declares, “I had it in my head: I was going making him quit.” “I am just going to break him today. I will not waste any of my time. This could all be hype. I had to see it.”
The exercise, which included stability and balance, muscle-isolation, and Bosu ball exercises, lasted for one hour and fifteen minutes. Holmgren was still strong so Delaney added another 15 minutes. Delaney added 15 minutes to make it an hour and 45 minutes. He seemed a bit sluggish, almost like he was about to give up. Holmgren didn't complain, but he kept going, Delaney said. I love this child. He is a great guy..
For 180 consecutive days, Holmgren worked out with Delaney, from that point forward. They worked on balance and functional strength without obsessing about weight gain. Delaney states, “You can't gain more than 10 to 15% safely without risking injury or losing a step.” “And Chet looks way stronger than he is.” Delaney has a clip of Holmgren performing a 61-inch box jumping. When Delaney asks Holmgren if Holmgren could bench-press 185, which is the amount Durant was famously unable to lift, Delaney replies, “Yes, comfortably.”
Holmgren was asked by the NBA's social media team to name the most common misconceptions about himself. His parents laugh at the idea he doesn't eat. “He never ate.” Stops David says that eating is the most important thing. It's all about metabolism.
Holmgren was told by Delaney that he wanted to make him quit on the first day. Holmgren replied, “He never told us that part, but if he was trying that, it wasn’t going to work.”
Larry Suggs also began to predict that Holmgren would be the No. 1. pick in the draft (ESPN), he began telling anyone who would listen — including Holmgren — that he was destined to be the best American-born white player since Larry Bird.
Holmgren states, “He said that a lot of times.” Holmgren also says, “And the first time it was brought up to him, I was in middle-school.” I have no reaction and that is not a job that requires me to fill. Race and nationality don't alter the game. The only thing that changes the game is your skill.
David Holmgren sits in his living area, which is surrounded with dark wood walls and ceilings. A grand piano can be found on one side, and a bookshelf containing hardcovers can be found on the other. The sidelight of the Georgian Colonial, which is 6,600 square feet and six bedrooms, has a sticker that says “Refugees Welcome Here”. It seems to be a mansion according to layman standards. Sarah, who is the owner of her own real estate consulting firm and an executive for a local nonprofit that provides affordable housing, is calling Chet from Santa Barbara to visit him with one of their daughters. Chet is a middle-child and Sarah is “trying to bring some normalcy” as he prepares for the draft.
The house is located in a neighborhood with many apartment buildings and businesses, just four blocks from downtown Minneapolis. Walking up to the front door, I see a group Somali women walking their children to school. David, a contractor in painting, grew up close to George Floyd Square. It is a four-block area that extends from the spot where Floyd was murdered by police. David worked in the same building as Cup Foods, and one of his high school jobs was at the drugstore.
Protests and unrest broke out a block from the Holmgren home in late May 2020 after Floyd's death. They could smell teargas from the backyard. Chet, who was just 18 years old and a junior at high school, refused not to go out. His parents, coaches, and close friends told him to stay home. They told him that you're 7 feet tall, and are well-known throughout the city. You'll be a target. David said that his son's anger and frustration overcame his pleas.
Chet said, “I hoop in the city with everybody.” “All my friends and all the people I have played with — we are all of different nationalities. While I don't have the ability to put myself in others' shoes in all circumstances, I can understand and sympathize. I am able to understand the feelings of people and know what is wrong.
Chet, in all black, left the house and marched with hundreds of others across the Interstate 35W Bridge. Just minutes earlier, a semi-truck plowed across the road and narrowly missed destroying a wall of protesters.
David and Sarah were watching the live broadcast on television from their home. They knew Chet was there with the protesters. Sarah describes it as “my most frightening moment as a parent.” Chet called David just seconds after the truck stopped. He had just left the bridge.
Chet said, “I just felt like it was my duty to be out there.” “This is part my community, it's a part of me. because I am 7'4″ and everyone knows that I am tall. I felt the need to be able to help others and get involved with helping them. People in my community supported me that I was looking for change.”
Orlando has the opportunity to reunite Holmgren, Jalen Suggs, and is the first pick. Sandifer said, “All the while it makes sense.” The basketball makes sense. The business makes sense. “Biggest thing since Penny & Shaq. Suggs was Holmgren's third-grade teammate in AAU. The pair teamed up for four years, three high school state championships, and four years (the fourth was canceled by COVID-19; Holmgren won the other four because he was an eighth-grader). Each of them played one year at Gonzaga prior to entering the NBA.
David Holmgren said that Jason had as much to play in Chet’s development as anyone. “You know, children are kids. And when Chet first entered the gym, it could have been, “What's that geeky white kid doing?” Chet would always go straight to Jalen after practice, and say, “Let's have a one-on-one.” Jalen would always respond, “Let's play.”
Sarah said that Joel is “like a big brother for Chet.”
Talk to enough people that knew Chet Holmgren back then and they'll all say the same thing. His movement was restricted and his repertoire was limited at Gonzaga. Holmgren chose Gonzaga in part because he could play in Mark Few’s high octane offense. It's said to be lethalFinger roll in the style of the old-school finger roll, which is now available in the skill set. You will get more moves off the ball, more face-up jumpers, and more range from an NBA offense.
David Holmgren tells us to “just wait”. “You will see something entirely different from what was in college. Trust me.
Any discussion soon devolves into endless comparisons. This is what Scouts, decision-makers and commentators do endlessly. What is a player like? Who could he become? We as a society have a tendency to want to know what it all means, so the sooner we get there, the better. Holmgren could be the latest Kevin Durant. If so, Holmgren could be the latest Kevin Durant. He has the shot-blocking ability that alters shots and changes game plans. He is Porzingis, a tall and thin player who has been reduced by the game's sheer size to a life far from the basket.
So many questions. Holmgren is the one who has finally given birth to the dream of positionless basketball. Or is this the moment, the promise, hope, and the horizon-length vision for what Chet Holmgren might be, that's destined to be the main events?
David Holmgren said, “He's always been successful at every level.” He has dominated kids twice his age and 50 pounds more than him. It has never made any difference. While he may struggle initially, he is certain to succeed.
Each question can be simplified to just one: What are you looking at? Chet Holmgren, at this point, is an experiment without any working hypothesis, a subject with no valid comparison, and a true party of one. This, however it turns out, is already an entirely new thing.
Holmgren was photographed in Beverly Hills, California at The Maybourne Beverly Hills.