NBA Rookies Holmgren and Wembanyama Compete for Rookie of the Year
Talking about award races this early in the NBA feels a little unfair. After all, we haven’t even reached the one month mark yet. But in a year where Victor Wembanyama was expected to run away with the Rookie of the Year award, so far it’s looking like we could be in store for a closer finish than many expected.
Make no mistake, Wemby has been exceptional. He’s living up to the hype and is displaying the talent that everyone projected him to have. His recent 38-point performance against Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns felt like a defining moment, as the Spurs secured their second win in three days against the championship-hopeful Suns. However, while Wemby is off to an impressive start, there’s another rookie who is having an equally impressive, if not slightly better, NBA debut.
Chet Holmgren’s Remarkable Start
Chet Holmgren’s numbers rival Wembanyama’s in every aspect. As the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft, Holmgren has seamlessly fit into the Oklahoma City Thunder. With a similar build to Wembanyama – a lanky, freakishly tall frame – Holmgren possesses many of the same skills. He exhibits the same fluidity with the ball, can create for himself, and even initiates offense. Both Holmgren and Wembanyama have established themselves as elite rim protectors, with Holmgren’s seven-block game showcasing his defensive impact.
Where Holmgren may hold a slight advantage over Wembanyama for Rookie of the Year is his efficiency. His shooting splits of 55/50/89 are not only impressive for a rookie but also unprecedented in the NBA. Holmgren is the only player in NBA history to average over 15 points per game with such efficiency. While this level of production may not be sustainable throughout the season, it is worth noting that Holmgren has already made a historic impact in just 10 games as a professional.
This isn’t to diminish Wemby’s impressive performance, but Holmgren’s scoring mirrors that of the No. 1 overall pick while taking six fewer shots per game. Holmgren isn’t the focal point of the offense like Wembanyama is with the Spurs, which naturally affects Wemby’s efficiency as he carries the load for a young, rebuilding San Antonio team. On the other hand, Holmgren faced the challenge of fitting into a team that was already on the rise when he joined the starting lineup this year.
Exciting Matchup and Future Outlook
While Holmgren was sidelined all of last season with a Lisfranc injury, the Oklahoma City Thunder quietly developed one of the best young cores in the league. Centered around budding superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort, and last year’s Rookie of the Year runner-up Jalen Williams, the Thunder primarily played small ball with great success. Adding the 7-foot-1 Holmgren to the mix raised questions about team chemistry and his ability to adapt to the NBA’s physicality. However, through 10 games, Holmgren has proven his worth as the team’s third-leading scorer and top rebounder.
It’s important to remember that there is still a long season ahead, and making premature predictions about the Rookie of the Year award would be unwise. If Holmgren can increase his scoring average while maintaining