Sure, it was only Summer League--and Utah Summer League for that matter--but it was one of the most enjoyable basketball games I have ever watched.
The young Thunder core, headlined by four lottery picks from the past two drafts, just annihilated a team of players trying to prove they deserved NBA contracts. While four-time Rookie of the Month Josh Giddey certainly ran the show, it was Chet Holmgren being the figurative "straw that stirs the drink."
It was a masterful performance by the freshly signed 7'1" rookie. The stat line of 23 points, seven rebounds and six blocks somehow understated the impact he had on the game. Chetty Spaghetti had an effect on every play of the game. He set the Summer League record for blocks in a game, but every shot the Jazz team took was still altered, if only mentally, because of Holmgren's presence in the arena.
Then on offense, he did things humans of his stature should be incapable of doing. Multiple times, he stopped on a dime with a behind-the-back dribble and calmly splashed a long three-point shot, a move made famous by Stephen Curry.
On an isolation play, he converted an off-foot step-back shot from the corner of the lane that I had only seen two players attempt before (Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant). All of this focused the attention of the defense on him whenever he was on the floor, yet he still slipped past their notice for a couple of uncontested dunks.
The excitement throughout Thunder Twitter was palpable that night and the weeks following as Chet provided monster performance after monster performance through summer leagues in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and a Pro-Am tournament hosted by former Sixth-Man-of-the-Year Jamal Crawford.
It was at the Pro-Am that our story shifts from comedy to tragedy.
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