Exclusive: Chet Holmgren on NBA 2K23, draft outfits, and more

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The No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren is one of the most visible young stars in the NBA. From exciting performances for the Thunder’s Summer League team to eye-catching fashion, Holmgren is taking the Association by storm. Over in Las Vegas, he was recently scanned into NBA 2K23, and had a chance to try out the new game for the first time.

Our Cameron Tabatabaie caught up with Holmgren at the event. He shared his thoughts on the game, on the Summer League, and what the future may hold for this Thunder squad.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Chet on 2K

CT: So, Chet Holmgren, congratulations — eventful couple of weeks. Let’s talk about 2K. You just now got scanned into the game, what was that experience like?

Holmgren: Oh, it was pretty cool. I’ve talked to a few people who’ve done it before. It was pretty much what I expected, you go in this little trailer thing. And they have like 100 cameras set up in a circle around you. You kind of sit there in front of it and make a bunch of faces for it.

And then the technology does something that puts you in a video game. I don’t know. All that’s over my head.

CT: Did you get a chance to play the game?

Holmgren: Yea, I played a couple minutes. I think it’s pretty good. I’m not gonna sit here and lie and say I’m the greatest 2K player, though.

CT: What was your favorite version of the game growing up?

Holmgren: I’d have to go with 2K16 or 17, I think 16 was the one with Kobe. But I have a lot less time to sit down and just play. And then I remember in 2K18 with James Harden they put the sliders on, kind of broke the game.

CT: So when you get 2K23, what two teams teams are you playing as?

Holmgren: Oh, I’ll definitely use the Thunder. Use myself for sure. And then I’ll probably use Orlando and play as my boy Jalen [Suggs].

Chet on getting drafted

CT: You’re probably still digesting the draft, but how did you celebrate. Whatever you can tell me, anyway.

Holmgren: I don’t have a crazy celebration story, nothing too crazy. I had a private dinner party with all my family and friends that were able to make it out. People within my agency, former teammates and stuff. It was great to be able to hang out, to be with them after, to play pool, to take pictures. It was a lot of fun.

But then that night goes quick. You don’t sleep much. It goes so quick. And then you’re on a flight right after that to to your organization. So definitely a night.

CT: So you’ve been out to OKC?

Holmgren: Yeah, great city. You know, everywhere I went, you see fans everywhere, Thunder fans everywhere. You kind of just kind of get the vibe that their fan base is, in my opinion, top one in the league.

CT: When did you know you were going to the Thunder?

Holmgren: When Adam Silver walked across the stage and was like, “And with the number two pick yada yada yada.”And then I stood up and hugged my family and put that hat on.

CT: You picked that draft night suit. What about that suit spoke to you, because you looked great.

Holmgren: Appreciate that. I agree.

So, I wanted to do like a black suit, a gold on black over kind of a print overlay, similar to what I ended up doing. But we couldn’t get the fabric the way I wanted it. But when they had the style I did like, when I saw it, I loved it. And it was like a black on black, velvet overprint. I don’t know how they put the velvet on the fabric but it turned out great.

I loved it. I didn’t want to put on a suit that grabbed attention. Just because it was crazy, like, “what is he wearing” type of thing. I want it to look good, and look classy while I while I was doing it. I felt like the look I put together did that for sure.

CT: I don’t know if you’ve played Minecraft, but I thought you kinda of looked like an Enderman, one of the tall black guys, I thought it might be a cool nickname.

What do you think of the other nicknames that are floating around. Have you heard people call you and [Aleksej Pokusevski] the “thin towers”?

Holmgren: We’re embracing it. That’s my guy. Definitely a lot more nicknames that are gonna come on Twitter that we’ll see. But it’s a good start.

 

Chet on the NBA

CT: Let’s talk about basketball a little bit more. Some folks are saying you’re a little too thin. Other folks are giving you Kevin Durant comparisons. How do you handle the noise? That’s a pretty big spectrum.

Holmgren: That’s what they’re saying? Cool. I just play basketball. My job isn’t to have narratives and takes and stuff. I just want to hoop, so that’s kind of what I worry about, just going out to hoop.

CT: Who do you think is your NBA comp? Or who do you model your game after?

Holmgren: I just model my game after the game itself really. I’m kind of a hoop junkie. So I just watch a lot of basketball, and if I see some somebody doing something that I think I could be successful doing, I try to add it to my game. But I don’t model my game off after any one person.

CT: Tell me about Summer League? Are you enjoying it, or is it challenging? What’s your take on Summer League so far?

Holmgren: Oh, it’s great. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to play five-on-five basketball since we played Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament. So this is like my first real opportunity to go play basketball as much as I want in a while. I think it’s great to be able to be back out there having a lot of fun with it.

CT: How are you finding the difference in NBA competition versus College?

Holmgren: It’s definitely different than college. In terms of just what the game is, it’s a different play style. There’s more space. It’s a lot faster. There’s only 24 seconds on the shot clock. So, the pace is up and down, you’re getting up and down.

The college players are great, you know? But they’re great in the NBA as well. So I’m just trying to be able to adjust to the play styles and game and figure out how to be successful.

Chet on the Thunder

CT: Tell me about the Thunder. They’re kind of the darlings of the NBA right now, and it seems like you already have great chemistry.

Holmgren: I like it. I love all my teammates. And yeah, I feel like we have great chemistry. I feel like it shows on the court. We’re all happy to play with each other. We’re all happy to see each other’s success. When one person has a great game, you know, everybody’s hyping them up, cheering them on. And if somebody’s out there struggling, we’re putting our arm around them to try and help them out.

I’m pretty much friends with everybody on the team, from the rookies, J-Will, J-Dub, and Uzi [Jalen Williams, Jaylin Williams, Ousman Dieng], to Josh, Poku, Trey, Wigs [Josh Giddey, Poku, Tre Mann, Aaron Wiggins], everybody on the team all the way down to summer league roster. I haven’t met everybody on the official team roster yet but, you know, I’m sure I’m gonna get along with them too.

It’s a great group of guys. OKC does a great job of recruiting and putting together people so there’s no problems on the team. The only way you’re gonna have a problem with anybody is if you’re looking for a problem. It’s great team to be on.

CT: What’s the ceiling for the Thunder this year?

Holmgren: We’ve got to get in the gym from day one when training camp starts, and work hard to figure out what our ceiling is, you know? We haven’t played together yet, so we don’t know what our ceiling is. But we’re going to do everything that’s possible to reach it.

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