Why Chet Holmgren isn't concerned with NBA Rookie of the Year race vs Victor Wembanyama

The NBA Rookie of the Year race hasn't been much of a race for a while now.

The runaway candidate is San Antonio's Victor Wembanyama, who makes headline for his otherworldly combination of size and skill every time he touches the floor. The 7-foot-4 center is averaging 21.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game.

Wembanyama's larger-than-life persona has overshadowed the play of his fellow rookies. But that doesn't seem to bother OKC's Chet Holmgren, who has fallen behind in the Rookie of the Year race despite boasting an impressive stat line of 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

Holmgren is more concerned about his team's success. OKC (53-25 entering play Tuesday) has clinched a playoff berth and is third in the West, while San Antonio (19-59) is at the bottom of the conference standings.

"The season is getting down to the point where every game means so much," said Holmgren, who was asked about the Rookie of the Year race in an interview with Stadium on Tuesday. "I'm really trying to lock in on the day-to-day and what we've got to do. ...

"I feel like it would be a be a disservice to our team and what we're trying to accomplish, especially the way that everybody has bought into doing whatever it takes to win and setting other certain personal things to the side."

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Holmgren isn't the only one who refuses to be distracted by individual awards.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was in the MVP conversation for most of the season, although Denver's Nikola Jokic seems to have run away with the award. Mark Daigneault is also the frontrunner for Coach of the Year.

OKC is enjoying a breakout campaign after going 40-42 last season, and it continues to receive recognition along the way. But the Thunder is still focused on an ultimate goal of winning its first championship in franchise history.

"If you don't come into training camp on Day 1 with the mindset of doing everything and taking the steps toward winning a championship, you don't end up in the Thunder organization," Holmgren said. "But that doesn't change the fact of how hard it is. And, at the end of the day, only one team can win.

"So we're going to take all the steps to put us in the position that has the best chance of doing that."

Holmgren is focused on OKC's success, but he still looks forward to matchups with Wembanyama.

OKC has a 2-1 lead in the regular-season series with San Antonio. Holmgren is averaging 16.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in those games, while Wembanyama is averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds.

OKC will host San Antonio on Wednesday in what marks the final meeting of the season.

"There's definitely a competitive aspects to all the matchups, as there should be," Holmgren said. "That's what the NBA has been built on, dudes being competitive and everybody wanting it really bad. ... As long as we're playing (San Antonio) and our two teams match up on the schedule, it's going to be competitive and it's going to be fun."

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This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OKC Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren put NBA awards talk 'to the side'