Northwest Notes: Holmgren, Thunder, Winslow, Gobert

A Lisfranc injury that required surgery on his right foot is preventing Thunder draftee Chet Holmgren from playing during his first NBA season. Instead, he has immersed himself in learning and getting ready for next fall, writes David Gardner of The New York Times.

Holmgren was expected to be among the headliners in this year’s rookie class after being selected with the second pick in the 2022 draft. That changed when he suffered the injury during a summer pro-am game that was eventually canceled because of wet court conditions.

While recovering from the operation, Holmgren has become dedicated to film study as he tries to envision his role with Oklahoma City once he can return to the court. He also meets once a week with coach Mark Daigneault, discussing both philosophy and strategy.

“I don’t think anything can replace playing this year,” Holgren said. “I don’t think anybody could convince me of that. But at the end of the day, I could let this be a blessing or a curse, you know? So I got to figure out how to turn it into a blessing, how to make the most out of it.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder are surprisingly in the Western Conference play-in race at 22-24, but they don’t consider their rebuilding project to be ahead of schedule, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Daigneault explains that the organization is committed to doing things the right way, regardless of how long it takes to be competitive. “There’s no schedule,” he said. “There’s a way of operating that we’re very confident in and that we’re just going to bet on. And that’s having, first of all, competitive guys and the team guys that we’ve known developing them, helping them grow through experiences, teaching professionalism, having a good environment and trying to play a style that scales forward.”
  • Justise Winslow has become a reliable veteran since being traded to the Trail Blazers last February, but he had a difficult journey through most of his NBA career. He talks about those challenges, including high expectations after being drafted by Miami and the difficulty of overcoming injuries, in an interview with Jason Quick of The Athletic. “I was very selfish; I thought the world was centered around me, especially when basketball was taken away,” Winslow said. “I didn’t know how to fill myself up. That’s when a lot of the negativity and darkness started to creep in.”
  • Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert is missing his third straight game tonight with a groin injury, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Coach Chris Finch said Gobert was able to participate in shootaround and the pregame workout, so he should be back soon.