Chet Holmgren Returns with a Bang after 11 months: NBA Summer League 2023

Chet Holmgren, the highly-touted 7-foot center-forward, finally stepped back onto the court after 11 months, showcasing glimpses of the exceptional talent that made him one of the most exciting prospects in recent memory.

Selected as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Holmgren’s rookie season was missed by a debilitating foot injury that required surgery. The setback kept him sidelined for the entirety of his year in the league.

On Monday, Holmgren returned with a resounding statement. In the Thunder’s Summer League opener against the Utah Jazz, he demonstrated his immense potential, accumulating an impressive stat line of 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks, propelling his team to a 95-85 victory.

Although his return began with a few early blunders and a scoreless first quarter, Holmgren displayed a remarkable determination to make an impact. Reflecting on his performance, he expressed, “The last thing I wanted to do was come out here and be timid, so I wanted to come out of the gates and be aggressive and look to impact the game.”

The 21-year-old added: ‘Obviously with that, you can make mistakes or miss shots, and that’s part of the game.
‘Whether you’ve just played a hundred straight games without missing one or missed the whole season, mistakes come with the game, and I just got to learn from them.’

Holmgren’s journey back to the court began after suffering a foot injury during a pro-am game nearly a year ago. Since then, he gradually regained his fitness, participating in pickup games and smaller-scale competitions. Remarkably, he expressed that his foot felt as if the injury had never occurred, except for the visible scars from surgery.

As the game progressed, Holmgren’s skills and instincts began to align, evident from a breathtaking 40-foot touch pass to Jaylin Williams, resulting in an impressive layup. Embracing the modern style of basketball, Holmgren exuded confidence, stating, “That’s just new-school basketball. I look forward to making it happen more.”

While Holmgren’s physical recovery appears to be on track, he acknowledged the mental toll that a year-long absence from competitive play can have. The true measure of his progress and abilities remains a personal test, one that he confronts with unwavering determination and a hunger to prove himself.

For Thunder fans, witnessing Holmgren’s return was a moment filled with elation and anticipation for the future. As the team’s young core continues to develop, Holmgren’s presence promises to bring a fresh surge of excitement and potential.

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