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ESPN draft guru makes case for Chet Holmgren as ideal Rockets fit

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Depending on the team that wins the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft lottery on May 17, there’s a case to be made for any of the three top frontcourt players — Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith, and Duke’s Paolo Banchero — to go first overall in June.

But as ESPN draft guru Jonathan Givony sees it, the ideal fit among those three for the Houston Rockets is Holmgren.

Here’s part of his explanation:

Holmgren gets the nod here in my view as the most talented player in the draft, as well as having the most potential to impact the Rockets’ defense, which ranked last in the NBA last year, as no other team gave up more points in the paint last season.

Holmgren’s elite combination of mobility, length and timing, which helped him average 5.3 blocks per-40 minutes, should help alleviate Houston’s defensive struggles immediately.

Holmgren also looks like an ideal fit next to franchise cornerstone Jalen Green, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft, with his ability to both space the floor (39% 3P%), and finish around the basket (74% 2P%).

“He plays a selfless style of basketball while bringing the type of toughness and unselfishness the team sorely lacks,” writes Givony, who believes Holmgren could fit well alongside either Christian Wood or Alperen Sengun as Houston’s starting frontcourt next season.

If the Rockets fall out of the top three of the draft and slip to No. 4 or No. 5 in the first round, which has an approximately 60% chance to occur (pick odds), Givony sees Purdue guard Jaden Ivey and Iowa big Keegan Murray as targets from the next tier for Houston to consider.

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