It’s going down tonight, Nov. 26, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Undefeated and number-one ranked Gonzaga vs. also undefeated and number-five ranked Duke. An early season heavyweight battle in men’s college basketball.
The game will also feature two standout freshman and potentially the top two picks in the 2022 NBA draft: Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero.
Both players have different games, but stand out for their respective teams.
Holmgren is a 7’0″ skinny 195-pound center who protects the rim on defense and spreads the floor on offense. He is averaging 13.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. Banchero is a 6’10” 250-pound forward with an NBA-ready body and a more polished offensive game. He’s averaging 17.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
To date, Gonzaga and Holmgren have played the tougher schedule with games against then number-five ranked Texas and number-two UCLA.
Duke played 10th-ranked Kentucky in the first game of the season, and Banchero has been excellent while dealing with an off-court incident involving teammate and Coach Krzyzewski’s grandson Michael Savarino.
NBA scouts and general managers will be tuned into this matchup for a look at the two prospects in big-game action.
Holmgren has a lot of the tools you look for when drafting talent in the NBA. He has skill and size at 7 feet with a 7’6″ wingspan. Height still matters in the NBA as the rim is still 10 feet above the ground. But today you need height and skill. Is Holmgren the next NBA unicorn?
Holmgren has good defensive instincts and is a good shot blocker for such a young player. That will matter at the next level. If he can step in and be a positive on defense like Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley, look out.
We’re going to see a lot of this from Chet Holmgren all season. Not many 7-footers on the planet who can impact the game like Holmgren can on both ends. Putting an absolute lid on the rim defensively tonight. So agile with the ball in his hands. 11 PTS, 6 REBS and 4 BLK already. pic.twitter.com/oazu2PxEq9
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) November 24, 2021
On offense he’s shooting 38.4 percent from three and he can pass the ball a bit. If he’s just that, that’s the new stretch five in today’s NBA.
He will have to add some weight to his frame, and we’ll get an early read on how he handles the physicality of defenses in tonight’s game against Duke.
You could drop Banchero off in an NBA game and he’d likely be more than fine. His counting stat averages are impressive and since 2000 only three major prospects have averaged those numbers in a season: Zion Williamson, Ben Simmons and Carmelo Anthony.
Some high-level stuff from potential No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero last night: 28 PTS, 8 REBS, 6 AST vs Citadel. Handles the ball like a guard @ 6-10, 250. Really showed his court vision. Made decisive reads. Already so polished creating for himself. Will be a problem with NBA space. pic.twitter.com/bH7OO7u1d1
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) November 23, 2021
Two of those players were drafted number one overall, with Melo picked third, in their respective draft classes.
At 6’10” and 250 pounds, he’s a four that you can run your offense through in today’s NBA. Think Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin or Julius Randle. Banchero handles the ball like a guard and you can see him play some three like the Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris does at times.
The Duke freshman isn’t super explosive and that may be a problem at the next level. Plus the one thing the NBA is full of that college basketball isn’t is length. Can Banchero score consistently and efficiently against length?
We will see tonight in the moments he’s matched up with Holmgren.
Get your popcorn ready; tonight’s matchup should be a good one.
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