Chet Holmgren shoots a free throw during the NBA Summer League.
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Chet Holmgren Is Quietly Hiding Under Victor Wembanyma's Shadow

While No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama is getting all of the national attention, Oklahoma City Thunder's Chet Holmgren is going under the radar.

Despite all of the hype surrounding No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama, there is another star-in-waiting going under the radar in Oklahoma City Thunder big man Chet Holmgren. 

Holmgren had similar hype coming out of Gonzaga. After a trip to the Final four in 2022, Holmgren played in last year's summer league and hurt himself in a preseason run while trying to defend LeBron James.

During this year's summer league, Holmgren emerged from a silent absence. The lengthy lottery pick showed consistent production with several notable performances that caught the eye of the basketball world.

A Strong Summer League for Chet Holmgren

Chet Holmgren in the post during NBA Summer League.

Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

Related: NBA Summer League Becomes Must-Watch TV Thanks to Victor Wembanyama, Jabari Smith Jr.

Heading into the last game of the Summer League, Holmgren showed flashes of big talent. In a 98-87 victory over the Indiana Pacers, the Oklahoma City prospect poured in 25 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. The 21-year-old flashed his long shot blocking ability in several key highlights, not bothered by the height and apex of the ball's arc with his 7-foot-6 wingspan.

"He kind of leads the charge on that end of the floor for us defensively," Oklahoma City Summer League head coach Kameron Woods said of Holmgren. "The stuff that he's gotten a lot better at is just understanding what we're trying to get done on that end and leading us with his voice. When he does that, he not only has a chance to be special, but I think the group does too."

In his other big performance in Las Vegas, Holmgren put up a double-double against the Mavericks on July 8, pouring in 16 points and 10 rebounds. With a steady diet of similar performances in the regular season, Holmgren could float Oklahoma City from the No. 10 spot in the west to a higher seed, boosting the team into the playoffs instead of the play in tournament.

Before injury in the later part of last summer, the former Bulldog showed the same ability in his few games of action. His summer league debut in 2022 resulted in 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Holmgren added a 4-of-6 performance from downtown, and his six blocks were the most ever by one player in a summer league game.

"He obviously had a great game, but the most impressive part to me was he did it within our offense. It looked like team basketball out there and he found success within what we're doing," Woods said.

Coming out of Gonzaga, many scouts reported positive information on the ceiling of Holmgren and what the forward could become in the right conditions, a similar prediction to what scouts said about Wembanyama.

"The draft's top defensive prospect, Holmgren should be an immediate difference-maker with his elite rim-protection tools and instincts. Still, for a 7-footer, it's his shooting, ball-handling, passing flashes and finishing that create the highest ceiling of any prospect in the 2022 class," Jonathan Wasserman reported about Holmgren before the 2022 draft.

In a basketball age where offenses are exploding at a historic rate, Holmgren's ability to defend could be a breath of fresh air for the Thunder. 

"In the cases that Holmgren elevates to reject shots, the level of difficulty takes a major uptick as, on multiple occasions, he skied over his teammates to reject their matchups' shots. Generally speaking, his radius of shot-contesting ability is one of his biggest selling points moving forward," Ben Creider reported about Holmgren before his selection.

The biggest factor that gives Holmgren's game a large potential is his ability to shoot the three ball. Nikola Jokic, this year's finals MVP, shot 38.3% beyond the arc in the regular season. In college, Holmgren placed 39% of his threes through the net, and his shot has the potential to get stronger with age. A big shooting ability will help Holmgren space the floor and keep up with the modern game.

All in all, the Thunder's 2022 lottery pick has all the tools. The biggest concern for long big men like himself is the risk of injury. Both Holmgren and Wembanyama will face this concern as they begin their careers in the league and have been banged up in the past. If the two stay on the court, Holmgren's ceiling could bring battles that build the next great battles in NBA lore.

MORE: Chet Holmgren's Parents Molded Their Son for the NBA Spotlight