When the 2022 March Madness brackets were released, NBA Draft junkies immediately circled a potential Round of 32 matchup between Gonzaga and Memphis.
Both teams took care of business in the Round of 64, meaning we got to see a head-to-head clash between two top prospects in t Drake Bulldogs clothes he 2022 NBA Draft class – Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren versus Memphis' Jalen Duren.
In my 2022 NBA Mock Draft leading into the NCAA Tournament, I had Holmgren going No. 1 overall with Duren falling a few slots behind him at No. 7.
While the two big men play the same position, they couldn't be more opposite in terms of stature and playstyle.
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Duren is the most physical player in this year's draft class. At 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, his body has drawn comparisons to a young Dwight Howard.
This formulated the perfect test for Holmgren.
Despite having the most unique skillset of any 7-footer to ever come out of college, he is often criticized for how his game may project at the next level because of his rail-thin frame.
At 7-foot-1, 190 pounds, it's easy to look at Holmgren and say "that won't work in the NBA." This matchup against Duren was his chance to prove he FSU vs. Miami Rivalry Shirts can hang with someone much stronger and more physical than he is.
And Holmgren passed that physicality test within the first few minutes of the game.
On the first possession of the game, Duren went right into Holmgren, but Holmgren's length disrupted his shot and caused a miss.
On the very next possession, Memphis posted up Duren on Holmgren and cleared out the entire side of the floor to let the NBA prospects bang bodies. Holmgren won that battle, too.
Duren hit him with two physical blows and Holmgren absorbed them both. When Duren went up for a layup, we got to see Holmgren's impeccable timing as a shot-blo Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens Jerseys cker, using all of his reported 7-foot-6 wingspan to swat the attempt while hardly leaving his Kentucky vs. Louisville Rivalry Gear feet.
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A few minutes later, Memphis went right back to that same play. The re College Lacrosse Shirts sult was no different.
As you can hear the announcer say, Duren has 55 pounds on Holmgren, yet he barely moves him. Even with a decent spin move, Holmgren's standing reach covers so much ground that he's able to block his shot without jumping at all this time.
This is a credit to how savvy Holmgren is as a rim protector. He's averaging 3.7 blocks per game this season and has 11 in NCAA Crewneck Sweatshirt just two NCAA Tournament games so far. Whatever he lacks physically, he makes up for it with intelligent defensive positioning, coordinated footwork and great timing, knowing he'll rarely have to leave his feet to disrupt shots, which helps him stay out of foul trouble.
And speaking of, we were robbed of seeing more Holmgren-versus-Duren possessions in this contest because Duren only played 19 minutes due to foul trouble.
But in those 19 minutes, Holmgren proved doubters wrong about not being able to hang with players who are more built than he is. There was only one possession where Duren truly man-handled him, and you could make the case that Holmgren flopped to try and field Duren's fifth and final foul.
Holmgren also showed how he can be a mismatch for opposing bigs because of his ability to create shots from the perimeter.
This was a solid opportunity for Holmgren to silence his critics and he stepped up to the task. If you ignore the way he looks and actually watch Holmgren play, the toughness and attitude he brings to the floor will answer some of your questions, I promise.
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Now, NBA fans should sit back and hope both Gonzaga FSU vs. Miami Rivalry shirt and Duke can advance in their respective Sweet 16 matchups. That would mean we get to see a second battle between No. 1 picks in Holmgren and Paolo Banchero.
Banchero took the advantage in their first matchup earlier this season – it would be fun to see Holmgren get a chance to respond.