Imagining Chet Holmgren on the San Antonio Spurs

The lottery order for the 2022 NBA Draft will be finalized on May 17th. As it stands, the San Antonio Spurs have the ninth pick in the draft. However, there’s a 20% chance that the Spurs move up into one of the top four spots. If San Antonio does get lucky, Chet Holmgren out of Gonzaga could very well become the franchise’s primary target.

I have Paolo Banchero as the top choice for the Spurs in my initial Big Board. That said, the race between Banchero and Holmgren is neck-and-neck. If San Antonio selects Holmgren over Banchero, I wouldn’t be surprised. 

By drafting Banchero, the Spurs would get the offensive centerpiece the franchise desperately needs. He’d come in and quickly earn the right to the team’s primary initiator in halfcourt sets.

Holmgren’s fit, on the other hand, wouldn’t be nearly as seamless on the offensive end. That said, the 20-year-old has enough star potential in other areas of the game that it may be impossible for San Antonio’s front office to pass on him after weighing the pros and cons.

What Chet Holmgren Would Bring to the Spurs

Holmgren is truly a unique prospect. He’s a skilled, competitive 7-footer who unfurls his 7-foot-6 wingspan to make plays that simply aren’t made often on a basketball court.

Defensively, Holmgren is a shot-blocking menace who has outstanding timing and can cover ground with an absurd amount of speed due to how quickly he processes the proceedings. He may look spindly and gangly but he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. When he’s not challenging shots on the interior, he can be found boxing out with gusto or moving his feet with a surprising amount of agility on the perimeter.

It’s difficult to overstate Holmgren’s potential on defense. If he retains his current level of quickness while adding weight to be better able to hold his ground, he’d have all the needed tools to be a top five defender in the sport.

Offensively, Holmgren’s shooting is what he’ll be able to hang his hat on from his first minutes in the NBA. He has a great looking stroke that’s virtually unblockable due to his length. Not only can he knock down jumpers off catch-and-shoot situations, he can also hit pull-ups from off the dribble. 

For his size, Holmgren is also a really good ball-handler and passer. As he fills out, there’s even a chance that he develops as a go-to option on offense who can score off of drives and isolation sets.

Chet Holmgren: The Risks

Almost all of the risks associated with Holmgren are wrapped up in his 195-pound frame. He’s not only skinny, he has a thin, slight frame that might not be able to hold much more weight. If Holmgren can’t get stronger and add bulk, his future becomes quite a bit murkier. Right now, he’d get pushed around quite a bit by the grown men that roam the paint in the NBA. 

If the Gonzaga big man does bulk up, will he still be as quick as he is now? Currently, you could get away with playing Holmgren at power forward because he’s nimble enough to survive defensively out on the perimeter. But losing even half of a step could make him only viable at center.

While Holmgren should be a stout defender early in his career, he needs to be paired him with a burly center — for at least a season or two. Otherwise, opposing teams would make it a goal to relentlessly attack him, if for no other reason than to wear him down.

Offensively, as long as Holmgren’s jumper translates to the professional depths, he should be able to retain value on that end.  

Chet Holmgren’s Fit on the Spurs

Defensively, Holmgren’s fit on the Spurs is extremely easy to imagine. He’d play power forward next to Jakob Poeltl, with Poeltl defending the bigger, more physical opponents. Holmgren’s shot-blocking and game-changing length would instantaneously make San Antonio a much improved defensive team.

Offensively, the fit isn’t as clear. At first, Holmgren would be a spot-up shooter. He’d eventually become active in pick-and-roll sets. Over the course of a few seasons, he could graduate to post-up and isolation sets, depending on his development.

If the Spurs draft Holmgren, the front office would also need to go out and find more perimeter playmakers. Holmgren could become a highly efficient finisher of plays if surrounded by playmakers. Outside of Dejounte Murray, San Antonio doesn’t have any proven offensive weapons who can fit that bill, though. 

Overall, adding Holmgren would be an extremely exciting turn of events for San Antonio. While risks exist, he’s a fascinating prospect who could be really, really useful in short order. 

Could Chet Holmgren Fall to the Spurs?

Holmgren going No. 1 overall is a legitimate possibility. In fact, as it stands, he probably has a higher chance of going No. 1 than Banchero does. To land Holmgren, the Spurs would most likely need to land a top two pick in the lottery. There’s a 9.3% chance of that happening on May 17th.