uncertainty for the first choice, the giant Holmgren intrigues

As it stands, Jabari Smith (2.08m) is tipped as number one, the former Auburn college player having his formidable outside shot and defense on his side. During a press briefing, this son of a former NBA player himself boasted of his “ability to weigh on both sides of the field”.

He would come to reinforce an Orlando team which decided to rebuild in the summer of 2021 and presented, last season, the second worst record in the League. But some wonder about his dribbling or his propensity to score close, and in recent days, the environment has been completely carried away for Chet Holmgren, whose potential is fantasizing.

This pole of 2.13 m, but only 88 kg, which comes out of a season with the University of Gonzaga, displays a very rare versatility for a player of his size. “I’ve never had someone like him,” enthuses Jamie Dixon (Texas Christian University), who trained him with the American U19s, world champions last summer. “Never had someone with his size play like that off the racket. »

Swiss knife

“In terms of technical qualities, he is a kind of Kevin Durant, even if he is not Kevin Durant”, dares James Jones (Yale), who was Jamie Dixon’s assistant with the U19s. “The NBA has become an outdoor-oriented league, so I think he’s going to be able to go around the perimeter and shoot three-pointers. »

Former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway, now a Memphis university coach, compares him to Kevin Garnett, another “seven-footer” (players 2.13 m and over) with the skills of a Swiss army knife.

His physique, however, questions Jamie Dixon, anticipating that he “is not going to gain masses of weight”, even after his entry into the NBA, which could be done in the jersey of the Oklahoma City Thunder (second choice) or the Houston Rockets ( third), if Orlando has passed.

The last two MVPs, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic, are also great ultra-versatile interiors, but with a much more substantial physique, just like the reference Dirk Nowitzki. From Kristaps Porzingis to Ralph Sampson, there are plenty of examples of slender giants whose careers were cut short by repeated injuries and Chet Holmgren’s aggressive style of play poses an additional risk.

Divination exercise

“Even if he is not powerful, he plays physical, he likes contact,” observes Jamie Dixon. “He never backs down. “For the NBA franchises, the draft becomes each year, a divinatory exercise more and more delicate, because the majority of the young American players spend only one season in university championship, even do not go there at all.

More and more basketball players prefer to go through the NBA training system, which for two years has brought together several high potentials in a specific G League team, its reserve championship. Others also choose a detour to a professional league outside the United States, at a level that is sometimes difficult to assess.

In this context, the profile of the third musketeer of this draft, Paolo Banchero (2.08 m), could benefit the former interior of Duke, announces the third choice but sometimes ranked higher in expectations.

Physically dense, endowed with very successful fundamentals, a good passer, the one who was also a quarterback in high school is often presented as the player most likely to have an immediate impact on his team.

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