Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, was injured early in the CrawsOver Pro-Am event while defending james lebron on a quick break.
“Certainly we are disappointed for Chet, especially given how excited he was to be on the court with his teammates this season,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. communicated. “We know that Chet has a long career ahead of him in our organization and in the Oklahoma City community. One of the things that impressed us the most during Chet’s selection process was his determination and focus. We expect the same tenacity to carry him through this time as we work together and support him through his rehabilitation.”
Presti told reporters later Thursday during an availability session that Holmgren would undergo foot surgery after the Thunder consulted with three of the nation’s top foot specialists. Presti confirmed that Holmgren suffered a ruptured tendon in his foot and not a fracture, noting that the Thunder were optimistic about his long-term recovery but would be “extremely conservative”.
“Something positive will come out of it,” said Presti, who said Holmgren had already resumed weight training and shooting drills without applying pressure to his foot.
Holmgren’s height was a frequent topic of debate throughout his lone season at Gonzaga and in the weeks leading up to the draft, as critics questioned whether his 7-foot-1, 195-pound frame would stand up to the physical rigors of NBA basketball. Presti, however, pointed out that the “contact injury” was unrelated to Holmgren’s height.
The match was called off in the second quarter due to the condition of the pitch. The unusually wet day in Seattle, combined with a full crowd, caused repeated wet spots and condensation. Presti said he didn’t consider condensation a factor in Holmgren’s injury.
Holmgren averaged 14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in five games earlier this year at the Las Vegas Summer League. Presti said Thursday that Holmgren was “having a monster summer” and “will be a force” when he returns to the Thunder.
A high draft pick having to sit out his first NBA season isn’t unprecedented, and in some cases, it hasn’t stopped players from reaching All-Star or even MVP-caliber levels.
Ben Simmons became No. 1 overall in 2016 and missed the following season with a foot injury. Blake Griffin was the No. 1 pick in 2009 but had to sit out while recovering from a knee injury, as was the case with No. 1 pick Greg Oden in 2007.
Reigning NBA Champion Scorers Joel Embid was the third pick in 2014 and missed his first two seasons with foot issues. Nerlens Christmas was the No. 6 selection in 2013 and missed what would have been his first season with a knee problem, and Michael Porter Jr.. was the 14th pick in the 2018 draft and missed the following season with a back injury.
“I don’t think missing the first year is going to really change the outcome,” Presti said Thursday when asked about Holmgren’s long-term prospects.
It’s even happened before to the Thunder franchise: Nick Collison was Seattle’s 12th pick in the 2003 draft, unable to play the following season with shoulder problems. Collison then spent his entire career with the Thunder, getting his No. 4 jersey retired – the team’s first such honor during his Oklahoma City days – and is still part of the team’s front office. .
Presti indicated that Collison would be involved in Holmgren’s recovery.
There have been other instances of lottery picks missing what could have been their rookie years, including Jonas Valančiūnas — selection n°5 in 2011 — not being able to join the Toronto Raptors until a year later due to his contract status with his European side at the time. Dario Saric and Ricky Rubio were lottery picks who played with their foreign clubs for two more years before coming to the NBA.
And some lottery picks never make it to the league: Orlando picked Fran Vazquez at No. 11 in 2005, but the Spanish big man never appeared in an NBA game.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.