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“Turned It Into A 1 On 1”: Chet Holmgren Reminisces On Joel Embiid Going At Him At Drew Hanlen’s Pick-Up Runs

Abhishek Dhariwal

"Turned It Into A 1 On 1": Chet Holmgren Reminisces On Joel Embiid Going At Him At Drew Hanlen's Pick-Up Runs

Currently at the top of the Western Conference, rarely did anyone predict the Oklahoma City Thunder to be where they are right now. Having dealt with a season-ending injury in the very first year of his NBA career, Chet Holmgren did not suit up for his team until this season. But before getting sidelined, what had Chet come to expect from the league? Well, Joel Embiid may have given him a welcome to the NBA moment long before Holmgren stepped foot on the floor.

Chet Holmgren recently made an appearance on the Boardroom podcast. The seven-footer was interviewed about his time before getting injured and the Thunder rookie went on to share playing against Joel Embiid.

Holmgren mentioned working out with Drew Hanlen, who also happened to work out with Joel Embiid. And the young rookie got to play a pick-up game with the six-time All-Star before he turned it up on him.

“He was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to turn it on.’ And then this like, skill and physical ability you know. I think he’s probably at the peak of both, especially when it comes to one-on-one basketball. And he turned it into a one-on-one game. We’re playing pickup and he’s like, ‘You’re not allowed to double.’”

The Philadelphia 76ers star gave the young rookie just a glimpse of what he should be expecting from players in the league on a nightly basis. Hitting Holmgren with fadeaways and his post footwork, the Thunder rookie quickly realized how good Embiid was.

“Not a whole lot you can do in that scenario. Fadeaways, bumps, he’s got all the footwork too. So, that’s kind of where I realized where the bar is.”

A young Chet Holmgren, who had never played a single NBA game got to test out the waters against Joel Embiid. Knowing full well not to talk trash to him, Drew Hanlen went ahead and did that for Chet, ticking off Embiid.

One of the main things he took away from that one-on-one with Embiid wasn’t just an idea of what to expect but also where his game stood and at what level he needed to elevate his game if he wanted to be a productive player in the league.

The sky is the limit for Chet Holmgren

The world was excited to see Chet Holmgren play in the NBA but a foot injury had him sidelined for an entire season. Though finally in the Thunder lineup, Holmgren’s heroics on the floor were quickly overshadowed by Victor Wembanyama. 

"Turned It Into A 1 On 1": Chet Holmgren Reminisces On Joel Embiid Going At Him At Drew Hanlen's Pick-Up Runs
Credits: USA Today Sports

Chet Holmgren was a clear winner for the Rookie of the Year award before Victor Wembanyama turned it up on his end. Just in his rookie year, Holmgren averaged 16.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game, per Statmuse.

The Thunder rookie also went on to reveal who he looked up to or modeled his game after while growing up and it was no single player.

“I wasn’t watching like one single person, it was more of like an archetype I guess. The taller skilled guys from Dirk to Kev to T-Mac. Like, these dudes who had the size but weren’t in the NBA because they were tall.”

Now, only in his first season, fans have gotten to see flashes of greatness from Chet Holmgren and anyone who sees him can say, the sky is the limit for this young kid.

About the author

Abhishek Dhariwal

Abhishek Dhariwal


A fan of the sport since the late 2000s, Abhishek has been covering the game of basketball for the past five years now. Having done his masters in Journalism and Mass Communication, Abhishek prides himself in being referred to as a sports journalist at The SportsRush. A fan of the San Antonio Spurs since the Tim Duncan era, Abhishek has an extensive knowledge of the sport and has covered more than 1500 articles. Having a firsthand experience of the sport, Abhishek has represented his city and state at a district and national level. And it is the same level of expertise he aims to bring while covering extensive topics both on and off the court of your favorite basketball stars.

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