NBA Draft 2022 Rumors: Chet Holmgren's 'Upside is Too Much to Ignore' with No. 1 Pick

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVApril 25, 2022

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 17: Chet Holmgren #34 of Gonzaga Bulldogs looks up while taking on the Georgia State Panthers during the first round of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament held at the Moda Center on March 17, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren remains a strong candidate to be the first player selected in this year's NBA draft.

"I think it would be tough to have the No. 1 pick and not take him," an NBA team source told The Athletic's James L. Edwards III. "If he's a whiff, he's a whiff. The upside is too much to ignore."

And Edwards wrote that "the majority of people I've talked to believe the Gonzaga big man carries the most upside, even though many of these same folks do have some slight concerns that he might not reach it due to his frame."

The 7-foot, 195-pound Holmgren is widely considered a top-three pick and could be the top player in the draft class.

Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer ranked Holmgren third behind Duke's Paolo Banchero and Auburn's Jabari Smith on Monday, calling him a "massive shot-blocker with guard-like skills on offense as a passer and shooter, though he needs to get significantly stronger to become the next great big."

The Ringer @ringer

Why should Chet Holmgren be the no. 1 pick in the NBA draft?<a href="https://twitter.com/JonathanTjarks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JonathanTjarks</a> makes the case to <a href="https://twitter.com/BillSimmons?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BillSimmons</a> on the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BSPodcast?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BSPodcast</a>: <a href="https://t.co/K54a7hoEyq">pic.twitter.com/K54a7hoEyq</a>

B/R's Jonathan Wasserman projected Holmgren to be selected with the third pick by the Detroit Pistons in his latest mock draft in February, writing that he would give the team an "elite finishing target and three-point shooting threat" while providing "his signature rim protection."

And ESPN's Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz projected Holmgren to be the top pick by the Houston Rockets, calling him "the draft's biggest difference-maker defensively, a force on the glass and a rim-protector who also shot 39 percent from beyond the arc and brings significant upside as a passer, finisher and shot creator."

Mike Schmitz @Mike_Schmitz

Joined the NBA Today crew to break down projected No. 1 pick Chet Holmgren, who entered the NBA Draft today according to <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wojespn</a>. <a href="https://t.co/uKjjj9ocC5">pic.twitter.com/uKjjj9ocC5</a>

Holmgren, 19, averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and a whopping 3.7 blocks per game in his freshman season (32 games), shooting 60.7 percent from the field. He helped lead Gonzaga to a 28-4 record, though the No. 1-seeded Bulldogs were eliminated in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men's tournament.

Regardless, Holmgren established himself as one of the top players in the nation. His draft spot may depend on where teams land in the lottery, but he won't be available for long.