The Orlando Magic had Chet Holmgren in for an interview — and presumably, a workout — this week as the team continues preparations for next week’s NBA Draft.
An NBA source tells Orlando Magic Daily that Holmgren spent Wednesday and Thursday with the Magic’s basketball operations leadership, becoming the second of the three consensus top pick options to make his way to Orlando (Jabari Smith visited Orlando last week).
What the Magic did with Holmgren is still a bit unknown. But what is known is the noise around Holmgren is starting to pick up as the Magic get involved in their own draft intrigue.
The Orlando Magic held their second major workout as they prepare to make the top pick in this coming NBA Draft. The noise around Chet Holmgren and the top pick is getting louder behind him.
Holmgren absolutely should be in the running for the top pick. He is an incredibly gifted player, despite all the hand-wringing that comes from some of the boredom of waiting between the Lottery and the NBA Draft.
Holmgren averaged 14.1 points per game, 9.9 rebounds per game and 3.7 blocks per game. He was a consensus All-American and West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
The 7-foot center has plenty of guard skills that stayed somewhat hidden in Gonzaga’s offense. He shot 39.0-percent from beyond the arc. He also showed some ability to attack off the dribble. In high school, he would grab rebounds and start the fast break and finish in transition or work guys off the dribble with behind-the-back dribble moves and quick cuts.
The question with Holmgren usually centers around his weight — he was listed at 190 pounds. There are plenty of people wondering if Holmgren can physically stand up to the rigors of the NBA.
And that adds to questions of how do you use a player with Holmgren’s unique skills and limitations? That is likely what was at the center of the Magic’s interview and workout. Testing to see Holmgren on the court and how he might fit in with what the Magic want to build — or whether he is worth building around completely.
Holmgren to his credit is considered a strong worker. And he never backed down from the physicality in the college game, even if it did sometimes get the best of him.
Holmgren worked out at P3 Science Labs and impressed the people there:
At this point, no one should question Holmgren’s willingness to work and cover up some of these perceived weaknesses. But it will be a question that trails him.
But so too is plenty of noise about what teams are trying to learn about him as they assess whether to make that major investment in him as one of the top picks in this draft.
Matt Babcock of The Basketball News reported Holmgren has not been providing teams with his medical information and did not submit to the NBA’s heart screening (certainly something that has been a bigger deal throughout the league lately).
Information is certainly power and it makes sense for a player who is the likely second pick to try to manipulate information to the situation that is best for him. The Magic, with the first pick and having Holmgren in their building, likely got the medical information they needed.
But even with the first pick, there is no escaping the noise and posturing of the NBA Draft. And no one seems to be doing more posturing than Holmgren and his camp right now. Although that might just be more about the fascination and debate about Holmgren, perhaps the most divisive of the top-three prospects.
Holmgren has done some work to make his statement clear. Ever confident, Holmgren has publicly been pretty cool at saying he will be happy to play anywhere. But Ryen Russillo on his podcast said he has heard Chet Holmgren and his agent, Bill Duffy, prefer he land in Oklahoma City because of the roster the Thunder have set up.
Who knows if any of that is true or what is real. The Magic are simply here to do their work, evaluate the prospects and make the best decision for them moving forward. They hold the first pick and have the ultimate decision to make.
The going rumor that has persisted is that most executives believe Smith will be the top pick. That has been the most consistent and persistent thought since the draft lottery took place.
But the going thought of the day is about the noise surrounding the top pick. Indeed, the noise is getting loud enough that betting markets have shifted pretty dramatically.
As of Friday at 11:30 a.m., BettingPros.com’s consensus odds (our partners at WynnBet do not offer odds on the top pick) have Smith as the favorite to go No. 1 at -250 (2/5 odds) but Holmgren has closed it recently to +170 (17/10 odds). A week ago, Smith was at -450 (2/9 odds) and Holmgren at +425 (85/20 odds), according to DraftKings.
Why this is the case could be a number of reasons.
Boredom with the same narrative is a usual driver for people to begin pondering alternatives. Holmgren has long been considered the prospect with the highest upside. And even Magic fans have joked the team never makes the player it actually picks available to the media (Holmgren was not made available to the media following his workout).
There are plenty more reasons ranging from the legitimate question to the ridiculous and random. But, as always, when there is no new information or a lack of information on what a team is going to do, the noise starts to fill the vacuum.
That has certainly happened with the Magic taking the No. 1 pick. It has certainly happened a lot with the conversation involving Holmgren.
The noise just keeps puttering along until the pick is made — and we are not even getting to the growing noise about the Magic trying to play the Thunder’s interest in Holmgren to try to swap the first and second picks.
So it seemed fitting that Holmgren came through Orlando pretty quietly.
The Magic, as they always do, are doing their work quietly to complete their draft profiles and get an understanding of all the options in front of them before the draft. They are getting to crunch time to finish these things up.
As expected, they got the guy they wanted and could pick with the first pick in their building to complete this profile and learn more about him as a person.