NBA world erupts over Aussie's connection with 'freakish' prospect

Chet Holmgren is pictured alongside OKC Thunder teammate Josh Giddey.
Chet Holmgren made a stunning NBA Summer League debut for the OKC Thunder alongside Australian star Josh Giddey. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

The NBA world has gone berserk over the debut of much-hyped draft pick Chet Holmgren, after he blocked a record six shots in his Summer League debut alongside Australian star Josh Giddey.

Holmgren, the second overall pick of the 2022 NBA draft, went to the Oklahoma City Thunder after the Orlando Magic stunned the league by selecting Paulo Banchero with the top pick.

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The seven-foot big man splashed two triples to end the first quarter against the Utah Jazz with 13 points, ultimately finishing with an impressive line of 23 points, 7 rebounds and four assists in just 23 minutes.

Crucially, he and second year guard Giddey showed a promising connection in their first time sharing a court together, with the Australian dropping 14 points and 11 assists in OKC's 98-77 win over the Jazz.

Holmgren amused NBA fans after the game when, during an on-court interview after the game alongside Giddey, he vowed to beat the Summer League blocks record he had just set minutes earlier.

For his part, Giddey was enthusiastic about the first outing for the Thunder's newest star.

“The hype that he came in with, and the way he played tonight was big for us,” he said.

“Being a high pick like that, there’s a lot of pressure coming in, and he handled it as well as he could have.

“Makes my job really easy playing with someone like him, who can stretch the floor, finish at the rim, protect me — he’s got my back on the defensive end.

“Love playing with him. It’s been one game, and the chemistry’s only getting stronger.”

On social media, NBA fans couldn't help but get excited about Holmgren's performance, after much speculation about how his game would translate to the NBA level.

NBA draft bolsters Australian presence in basketball

After a sensational rookie year from Giddey last season, newly drafted New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels is hoping to he can follow in his fellow Aussie's footsteps.

Selected eighth overall by the Pelicans, Daniels will join CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas alongside a fit-again Zion Williamson in a unit with deep play-off aspirations.

The Bendigo 19-year-old has taken a unique route to the top, bypassing US college and the NBL to instead develop his game with the NBA Academy in Canberra and then star for Ignite in the NBA's second-tier G League last season.

"That's huge, they made a really big step last year making the playoffs and did well," he said of the Pelicans' standing.

"Joining this team, I can help them do better in the playoffs. I'm a winner, I hate losing so I'll do whatever they need and I can definitely step into some roles and contribute straight away.

"I am just so happy ... to be a Pelican, there's no better place. I can't wait to get to work. This is crazy."

Dyson Daniels is pictured alongside NBA comissioner Adam Silver at the 2022 Draft.
Dyson Daniels was selected eighth overall in the 2022 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

His and Luke Travers' selection follows Australian Josh Giddey's pick at No.6 last year and Josh Green (No.18) in 2020, underlining the emerging talent at the Boomers' disposal ahead of next year's World Cup, the Paris 2024 Olympics and beyond.

NBL Next Stars product Ousmane Dieng, the New Zealand Breakers import, was taken by the New York Knicks and then immediately traded for future first-round picks.

Dieng's Breakers teammate and fellow Frenchman Hugo Besson was taken with the 58th and final pick by the Indiana Pacers, some four hours after Banchero's name was called, before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.

With AAP

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