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The opportunity to select Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren could be on the line during Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery, and improved shooting will only make him a more realistic candidate to go No. 1 overall.
He believes that improvement will come in a major way.
“My shooting,” he said on ESPN’s NBA Today when Richard Jefferson asked him what areas of his game need to improve. “I feel like I’m already a high-level shooter from all parts of the floor, but at the end of the day I feel like I have to take it up a whole other notch and take it to another level.
“I think I can be a 50-40-90 player.”
Shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and 90 percent from the free-throw line would be quite the accomplishment, especially for a big man.
After all, just nine players in league history have gone 50-40-90 with Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Malcolm Brogdon and Kyrie Irving posting the impressive shooting line.
To Holmgren’s credit, he did space the floor during his one season at Gonzaga and hit 60.7 percent of his shots from the field, 39.0 percent of his three-pointers and 71.7 percent of his free throws.
Still, significant improvement is needed from the free-throw line to get to 50-40-90, and that’s not even considering the vastly superior defense he will face in the NBA compared to when he was a consensus All-American, WCC Defensive Player of the Year, WCC Rookie of the Year and All-WCC First Team performer.
If Holmgren, who averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game at Gonzaga, consistently protects the rim, finishes in the paint and forces the defense to respect his outside shot, he will surely have an impressive career even if he doesn’t join the likes of Curry and Bird on the illustrious shooting list.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman projected him to go No. 2 to the New Orleans Pelicans in a lottery simulation and mock draft, which would, in theory, put his shooting in focus.
If defenders are focused on Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram, Holmgren will likely have a number of open looks.
Hitting them could have him in contention for Rookie of the Year.