It hasn’t really been talked about too much yet, but in high school Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren have developed a nice rivalry and they’re going to be compared a lot in college too even though they may never even meet. Duke and Gonzaga could conceivably set up a regular season match next season but otherwise, the only chance to meet is in the NCAA tournament.
Barring injury or something unforeseen, they’ll both be lottery picks - possibly 1-2 - and we can look forward to a long NBA rivalry.
But how will their NBA lives pan out?
In this article, one NBA exec has strong opinions on both. Here’s what he thinks of Banchero:
“If I needed someone to throw into a NBA game tomorrow, Paolo Banchero could give my team 15 and 8 and fit in perfectly with our group in terms of skill, feel and competitiveness wise. He has everything you look for at his position and plenty of room to grow too.”
But he says he’d still take Holmgren first because of his significant upside.
And that’s understandable. Holmgren is an amazing player.
But there are a couple of caveats to Holmgren. First: can he put on weight? He’ll certainly need to. And second, how is he going to do when the big guys are immensely athletic?
We watched one play from the Iverson Classic where Banchero drove baseline on him and for whatever reason, Holmgren was either unwilling or unable to contest the shot. All he really did was to put his hand up and it wasn’t like the drive was a big surprise.
It’s a very small thing, a useless sample, but it did make us wonder: what happens when Giannis Antetokounmpo or Anthony Davis or Joel Embeed comes barreling down the lane? Will he be able to hold his ground? What about Zion Williamson?
He couldn’t today but Banchero might be able to.
Of course the thing about the 7-0 Holmgren is that he has superb all around skills. He’s an excellent ball handler and three point shooter and combines that with outstanding defense.
So who’s the better bet?
Check back in about four years. Meanwhile, please buy Holmgren a sandwich or two.