NBA Scouts’ Dish on Gonzaga Duo Chet Holmgren and Andrew Nembhard’s Predictions | swx right now

Chet Holmgren has a wingspan of 7ft 6in – one of the many reasons he could be selected #1 in Thursday’s NBA draft – and the many opinions predicting the basement and ceiling of the former Gonzaga star in the league also tend to cover a wide range.

One thing seems likely: The 7-footer has every chance of replacing or joining Adam Morrison (No. 3 behind Charlotte in 2006) as the school’s top pick. Even Holmgren’s most outspoken critics usually rank him first, or at worst third or fourth.

Another possibility: The rise of defenseman Andrew Nembhard in the pre-draft process gives Gonzaga a shot at two first-round picks for the third time in four years (Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clark in 2019, Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert in 2021).

We asked three NBA scouts, on condition of anonymity, of course, to give their opinions on Holmgren and Nembhard. Holmgren, in particular, drew lavish praise for his unique defensive skills and care for his lean 195-pound frame.

“I’m not afraid of him as a player,” said one scout. “I think he will be fine and could be exceptional. I’m just worried about its durability. Someone told me: “Whoever pulls the trigger to pick him, it’s better to have a long contract.” But he could be a great player.”

“I would take a more positive approach because of how talented and gifted he is,” said another scout. “I think people will have to be very patient with him because of his body type, but he is very, very special. But there is a potential risk. There is no doubt about that.”

In that sense, Holmgren is no different from Auburn’s Jabari Smith, who seems to be the favorite to go to number one in Orlando, and Duke’s Paolo Banchero. The media, mock draft picks, and NBA talent evaluators routinely settled on Smith, Holmgren, and Bunchero in the top three for months.

“Absolutely,” one scout replied when asked if Holmgren is often a topic of discussion in the NBA draft room. “What we’re going back to is looking at what he can do on the floor more than anything else. He has incredible length, can defend the ring, has the ball and can shoot from anywhere on the court. With his growth, such a combination is rarely seen. He moves very well, his body is not clumsy. The physical can change, we’ve seen it before.

“You really have to focus on your abilities and then have faith in your strength and nutrition department. That is why you are investing heavily in these areas to help such a child.”

Holmgren’s impressive work ethic at Gonzaga was unquestioned, and it survived through the pre-draft process.

He told Stadium’s Shams Charania that he works out at the gym six days a week.

“How many people have the same speed as him, at this size?” one scout asked. “You look at his figure and wonder how much stronger he can get. It is narrow at the shoulders and hips. He’ll get a little stronger, everyone does it.

“People want to criticize Chet for certain things. Even when he scored badly, he bounced, passed, blocked shots. Those are pretty good qualities.”

Holmgren averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 3.7 blocks. In West Coast Conference games, he averaged 15.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 3.7 blocks. 6-10, the 220-pound Smith averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 blocks. The 6-10, 250-pound Seattle native Banchero had 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 0.9 blocks.

“We know that all three of them are talented, but they all have questions,” said one of the scouts. “No one is a finished product, even if you pick No. 1. I would say Paolo (most ready for the NBA). Physically, he is ready and can play tomorrow. There’s a reason he’s in the top pick conversation.”

The NBA continues to value mobile players who are able to play offensively and defensively on the perimeter in a more non-positional style of play.

“One thing that helps Chet is how the game has changed,” remarked one scout. “It hurts Drew Timm, but it helps Chet.”

Nembhard appeared to be climbing the draft boards with confidence, helped by 26 points and 11 assists in the NBA draft scrum. All three scouts agreed that he would likely be selected at the end of the first round or early in the second.

“He’s your clean point guard, capable of throwing enough shots and being creative,” one scout said. “In a world full of comboguards, he knows who he is, he has good size and should be a decent enough defender. I think the playoff teams are looking at him, whether he’s in the late 20s or early 30s.”

The 6-5, 195-pound point guard averaged points (11.8), assists (5.8), three-point percentage (38.3) and free throw percentage (87.3).

“He knows how to manage pickers and is a very good distributor. He doesn’t need to dribble to be effective, he can pass the ball,” said one of the scouts. “I don’t see him as an NBA starter, but I think he could be a good support.”

“What stands out is his intelligence, IQ, and his sense and understanding of the game in that position,” said another scout. “The little things he does, he holds a defenseman on his back while he inspects the court, he does what a five to 10-year NBA veteran does. You know what you’re getting and he’s just a reliable guy in a very important position.”

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