Chet Holmgren, in his much-awaited regular season debut for the Oklahoma City Thunder, didn't exactly put up eye-popping stats; in a blowout win against the Chicago Bulls, he put up a rather pedestrian 11 points and four rebounds with no swats. But on Friday night, Holmgren popped off against the Cleveland Cavaliers, displaying the incredible potential he has as long-term backbone of the Thunder defense for the next decade.
Facing an undermanned Cavs frontcourt that's currently missing Jarrett Allen, Holmgren went to work en route to a 108-105 win for the Thunder. The 7'0 rookie tallied 16 points, 13 rebounds, and, perhaps most revealingly, seven blocks, and that doesn't even begin to capture the impact he had. Holmgren's presence deterred countless other shots from the Cavs at the rim, passing the eye test with flying colors as he had sublime timing and positioning when guarding the pick-and-roll.
And deservedly, Chet Holmgren drew the praise of thousands of fans on social media, even garnering plenty of Rookie of the Year buzz for what was such an outstanding performance for the nascent Thunder.
Of course, there are 80 games remaining in the regular season, so the narrative will still most definitely change as the months pass. But no one can deny that Chet Holmgren has indeed looked marvelous in his limited action thus far. Can the Thunder rookie play well enough to sway the narrative in his favor for the entire season so he could drown out the Victor Wembanyama hype? Given how well he's played thus far, he certainly has the ability to do so. All he needs is to stay healthy.