Holmgren produced a team-high 19 points and four rebounds to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 128-95 loss at Paycom Center. He went 7-of-12 from the field, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, in 25 minutes of work.
Jokic paced the Nuggets with 28 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in nearly 30 minutes. He was guarded for much of the contest by Holmgren and found great success against the rookie, scoring 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field against him.
Holmgren hadn’t played against an opponent quite like him.
“I would just say it is, obviously, a new experience,” Holmgren said. “I’ve never played against him in my life. I can’t say I’ve really played against anybody similar to him in my life. There are definitely a lot of things that he does that are hard to replicate.”
While Jokic won the matchup, Holmgren also had some nice moments.
The 7-footer scored 11 points against Jokic on 5-of-8 shooting from the field. He flashed his footwork on one possession, which resulted in a turnaround 7-foot jumper. The next time down the floor, Holmgren caught the ball on the wing and drove past Jokic for a two-handed jam.
The two sequences showed how Holmgren can impact games on offense this season. However, the team will likely have to get him some help down low on defense, especially against bigger players like Jokic.
Jokic offered his assessment of Holmgren.
“He’s a really talented guy, but this is his first year,” Jokic said, via Bennett Durando of the Denver Post. “He’s still learning everything: The game, how quick it is, where is an advantage, where is a disadvantage. I think he needs experience. I think he needs to be a little bit fatter, to be honest. But yes, he has a talent that is unique.”
The contest will be a learning moment for Holmgren against Jokic and the defending champions. Jokic has proven to be a difficult player to slow down over the years, and Holmgren saw that firsthand on Sunday.
He is looking to get better from it.
“I learned that I personally have to be better,” Holmgren said. “Obviously, he is a great player, and you can kind of shrug it off (as a) two-time MVP player or whatever. That’s the thing about the NBA: Every other night, you’re playing against an MVP, so you just gotta really take it to heart and figure out what you gotta do to be better.”