HomeBasketballChet Holmgren: Introducing the NBA’s subsequent ‘unicorn’

Chet Holmgren: Introducing the NBA’s subsequent ‘unicorn’

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By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports activities Columnist

Simply to be clear, Chet Holmgren doesn’t look something like a horse and doesn’t have a horn protruding the highest of his head.

Neither does Kevin Durant. Giannis Antetokounmpo. And no horns on Anthony Davis, none on Nikola Jokić, nor Karl-Anthony Cities.

But right here we’re just a few weeks forward of the 2022 NBA Draft, and Holmgren, like so many truly tall guys with distinctive basketball abilities earlier than him, is getting labeled with the NBA’s most mysterious and more and more complicated time period.

Unicorn.

In hoops, the legendary creature written about in fantastical literature items such because the “Chronicles of Narnia” and “Harry Potter” refers to an enormous man with the talents usually reserved for somebody a lot smaller. Within the case of Holmgren, it’s as a result of he’s a 7-foot middle with the handles of some extent guard and may drain it with consistency from downtown.

His measurement and various ability set creates a large number of opposition challenges. His size means he can strongly shield the rim, and regardless of his slight body, he has repeatedly proven willingness to face within the line of fireside. He averaged 14.1 factors and 9.9 rebounds at Gonzaga, and there’s a sturdy probability he sees off the rival challenges of Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith to say the No. 1 draft spot, held by lottery winner Orlando.

It’s straightforward to see how a bit of bulk over the approaching years and a few normal enchancment may give Holmgren an opportunity of being a participant within the Antetokounmpo mould, if not fairly as dominant because the “Greek Freak.” That enhanced upside is the issue maybe most definitely to sneak him previous Banchero and Smith on the Magic’s whiteboard.

But, perhaps the very precept of assuming that small guys are there to shoot and cross, and massive guys exist to rebound and block, is changing into so severely outdated that the sight of a Holmgren-type participant shouldn’t be a shock anymore.

Jokić is an other-worldly passer and two-time MVP, regardless of being 7-foot and possessing a non-spectacular body. Cities gained the 3-Level Contest and made a career-high 150 triples this season, at a 41% clip. Antetokounmpo continues to indicate one of the best of each ability set. Durant is Durant — troublesome sufficient to comprise if he was 6-foot-4 — nightmarish at 6-foot-10.

It was Durant himself who seems to have created using the phrase unicorn in basketball, utilizing it to discuss with the difficulties in attempting to take care of Kristaps Porzingis just a few years in the past. However because the checklist above reveals — and you could possibly simply add Joel Embiid to it — basketball unicorns are nonetheless particular, but hardly so uncommon anymore, which sort of impinges upon the entire unicorn concept.

On the planet of a 3-year-old lady, unicorns are one thing to adorn bed room posters, get together favors, play tents and T-shirts, which I do know as a result of I’ve a 3-year-old lady.

And in enterprise, a unicorn is a privately-owned startup that grows to a valuation above a billion {dollars}, which I do know as a result of I often flick by the pages of the Wall Road Journal.

Subsequent, let’s speak about velocity. Holmgren isn’t lightning fast, however he positions himself properly, and you’ll wager that he’s already working to make sure he’s not repeatedly bullied round below the basket.

He developed properly below Mark Few at Gonzaga, added 3.7 blocks per recreation to his stat line, and comes throughout with loads of pure confidence, blended in with some humorous bluster.

Requested just lately who he believed one of the best participant within the NBA was, his reply was a winner

“Me in two months,” he stated.

That’s a stretch, however there’s really no exact reply on how this stretched out ability machine goes to fare. Being forged as a unicorn places him in fantastic firm, however there are nonetheless a ton of unknowns.

Amongst them is the unavoidable downside for hoops aficionados — one which doesn’t must occupy Holmgren’s ideas for a second. As increasingly huge males with guard traits arrive into the league, are the NBA’s unicorns actually nonetheless unicorns in any respect?

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports activities and the creator of the FOX Sports activities Insider E-newsletter. You possibly can subscribe to the publication right here.


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