OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder chose Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night.
Holmgren, a versatile 7-footer from Minneapolis, was a second-team Associated Press All-American in his only college season. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds and ranked fourth nationally with 3.7 blocks per game for the Zags. He shot 61% from 3-point range and 39% from 3-point range last season — the kind of efficiency that could help a Thunder team that ranked last in the league in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and scoring last season.
Holmgren becomes the highest draft pick ever out of Gonzaga, passing Adam Morrison (No. 3 overall to Charlotte in 2006) and his high school teammate Jalen Suggs (No. 5 to Orlando last year).
His skill could help him be effective as he works to add to his slender 195-pound frame.
He will join a young core that includes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley and Tre Mann. Alexander averaged 24.5 points last season.
Giddey, last year’s No. 6 overall pick, was a second-team All-Rookie selection last season. Dort is one of the league’s best defensive players when healthy. Bazley is an athletic wing player and Mann was an explosive scorer off the bench. Gilgeous-Alexander, the oldest player in that group, is just short of his 24th birthday.
The Thunder hope Holmgren eventually can help them regain some of the glory from the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook era. The Thunder went to the Western Conference Finals four times with that duo and the NBA Finals once. The Thunder have not won a playoff series since Durant left and have missed the playoffs the past two seasons. They went 24-58 last season.
The franchise has had success early in drafts in the past, selecting Durant No. 2 overall in 2007, Westbrook No. 4 overall in 2008 and James Harden No. 3 in 2009.