No one expected No. 1 draft pick and potential NBA superstar Victor Wembanyama to face much competition for the 2023-24 NBA Rookie of the Year award, but former Gonzaga star Chet Holmgren is making sure it stays a two-man race.
NBA.com releases a weekly Kia Rookie Ladder ranking the top 10 rookies in the league, and Holmgren came in at No. 2 just behind Wembanyama, as the duo continue to try to outshine each other in the early going this year.
Holmgren is averaging 17 points, eight rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game so far with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and his obscene efficiency is turning a lot of heads as he’s shooting 55.7% from the field, 53.8% from three, and 90% from the free throw line.
His ability to impact the game on both ends, fill his role admirably, rarely make mistakes, and occasionally show off insane feats of athleticism makes him one of the most exciting basketball players on the planet – and any other year he’d be the obvious front runner for Rookie of the Year. He could still win the award, of course, but it will require either an injury or a significant dry spell from Wembanyama for Chet to earn said crown.
Holmgren was not the only Zag on the list however, with fellow rookie Julian Strawther coming in at No. 9 – one of just two players in the top 10 who was not selected in the lottery alongside Detroit guard Marcus Sasser, who came in at No. 8.
Strawther recently dropped 21 points while shooting 5-9 from deep in a win over the Pelicans, and is averaging 6.8 points, one rebound, and 0.5 assists on the year while shooting 40.9% from three.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.