News broke Wednesday that Oklahoma City rookie center Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick out of Gonzaga, had suffered ligament damage last week in a pro-am game, but the Thunder were holding out hope the injury wasn't season-ending. Today the bad news: Holmgren has a dreaded Lisfranc injury in his right foot and will not debut until the 2023-24 campaign. The SportsLine Projection Model now forecasts OKC as the NBA's worst team this season, while the Kings' Keegan Murray has moved up to the second favorite for Rookie of the Year.
Thunder GM Sam Presti said today that Holmgren will have foot surgery after the Thunder consulted with three of the nation's top foot specialists. Presti confirmed that Holmgren suffered a ruptured tendon in his foot and not a fracture, adding that the Thunder were optimistic about his long-term recovery but that they would be "extremely conservative."
Some scouts were scared off by Holmgren's 7-foot-1, 195-pound frame and the chances he would get injured against bigger players in the NBA, but Presti emphasized that the "contact injury" was unrelated to Holmgren's size.
The NBA is different than other leagues when it comes to Rookie of the Year, incidentally. In the NFL, for example, it's whichever year you enter the league. Since Holmgren won't play a game this season, he is still eligible to win it in 2023-24. Blake Griffin was drafted No. 1 overall in 2009 by the Clippers but missed his rookie year due to a knee injury and then won ROY in 2010-11.
OKC was given an over/under win total of 26.5 at various sportsbooks but that's down to 22.5. The SportsLine Projection Model is even more pessimistic… but it wasn't exactly singing OKC's praises before. It forecasted the Thunder for 21.1 wins pre-injury, and that number is now just 17.5.
There are many around the NBA speculating that the Thunder will tank one more season with this news and a shot at taking mega-prospect Victor Wembanyama atop the 2023 draft. Wembanyama and Holmgren would be the most unusual big-man duo in league history.
As for the 2022-23 Rookie of the Year award, Orlando's Paolo Banchero got a bit of a bump with Holmgren out. The Duke product is now the +225 favorite. Sacramento's Murray, the No. 4 overall pick, also saw his odds shorten to where he's a +430 second favorite. Murray was named the MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 23.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. The last Kings winner of the award was Tyreke Evans in 2010.
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