Cold beer slammed into the top of the bar, crunchy french fries consumed and televisions streaked across Fissler Hall Thursday night ahead of the NBA draft.
An hour before the draft began, hundreds of Thunder fans crowded into the bar that features garage doors leading to the patio area in downtown Oklahoma City. In mid-eighty-degree weather, some fans played table tennis, others corn pits, while the majority sat under the TV and chatted with fellow fans in anticipation of the big soiree at one of the city’s many viewing parties for the draft.
The Thunder Organization had a second pick in the NBA Draft before, picking Kevin Durant in 2007 while the organization was still in Seattle. But the No. 2 pick was the organization’s highest pick since it arrived in Oklahoma City in 2008. So, at the NBA Draft party, Thunder fans of all ages gathered to watch the historic selection in action Thursday night.
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“At the end of the day, in (Sam) Presti we trust, okay?” Brixton Schmidt, a 21-year-old Thunder fan, said minutes before OKC was chosen. “So, whatever he’s doing, we’re fine with him.”
When the NBA bell rang for the No. 2 pick in Oklahoma City, hundreds of fans stopped what they were doing and stared at screens as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Chet Holmgren from Gonzaga to Oklahoma City. There were mixed reactions from fans raising their arms and shouting in excitement, hello to the fun, while others stood in amazement as the majority of fans received a standing ovation.
Ben Bambus, 23, said: “We are very happy. He is a generation player, he can do everything in defense and he can facilitate like no other, this is the big man we need in this league. We are excited for Chet!”
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One TV inside Fassler Hall was ahead of the others, so the fans closest to the bar watched the selection process first, but the other close to a dozen TVs were hooked up to the bar’s speakers allowing other fans to come to the indoor tables and outdoor patio area to hear Holmgren’s selection.
“Ecstasy,” Britton Schmidt, 25, said of Holmgren’s selection. “That’s exactly what we need, it’s where we go, it’s the best!”
The Houston Rockets challenged preconceived notions with Duke Paulo Banchero with the #1 pick in place of Auburn’s Jabari Smith. Many fans were expecting Thunder to pick Smith after Houston chose Banchero. A small crowd even chanted Al Jabri’s name before choosing Oklahoma City. But the Thunder held up with what everyone expected, who believed Smith would go first, before the draft by taking Holmgren.
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“I hope we get Chet Holmgren,” Anton Harris, 47, said before the start of the NBA draft. “Someone big, (who can) shut down and do some of the things we need to do and someone the city can get around to.”
“I think we’re going to draft Chet Holmgren in second, and then we’re going to trade up to No. 4 and then we’re going to draft (Benedict) Mathurin,” Josh Kinzel, 29, said before the NBA draft.
The Indiana Pacers took Mathurin with the sixth pick, but the Thunder went up one point. The Thunder entered Thursday night with numbers 2, 12 and 34. After the New York Knicks picked Usman Deng with the 11th pick, it was reported that the Thunder traded for pick rights while also retaining numbers 12 and 34.
The trade received enthusiastic boos from the crowd as Silver walked onto the podium once again, announcing the Thunder’s pick of Santa Clara’s Galen Williams. Fan reaction wasn’t as animated as Chet Holmgren’s choice, but there were fist pumps and head nods from many of the attendees.
Holmgren’s pick remained the talk at the pub as the picks wrapped up inside the draft lottery.
“They’re worried about the frame,” Matthew Holmes, 27, said of Holmgren’s 7-foot-195 body. “That’s not a modern NBA standard. You can have anything now. He’s not going to grow into Giannis Antitokonmo, but he’ll grow into a better version of himself. He should raise his free-throw percentage; he’s got a 3 down. But he’ll grow in his body enough to compete in the league.” NBA talk.”
James D. Jackson covers high school sports across Oklahoma City metro and state. Do you have a story idea for James? He can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JamesDJackson15. Support James’ work and the work of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at subscribe.oklahoman.com or using the link at the top of this page.
2022 NBA Draft Results
1. Orlando, Paolo Banchero, Duke.
2. Oklahoma City, Chet-Holmgren, C, Gonzaga.
3. Houston, Jabari Smith, Jr., and, Auburn.
4. Sacramento, Keegan Murray, W., Iowa.
5. Detroit, Jaden Ivey, J., Purdue.
6. Indiana, Benedict Mathurin, W., Arizona.
7. Portland, Sheldon Sharp, Kentucky.
8. New Orleans (from Los Angeles Lakers), Dyson Daniels, J., J. League Ignite.
9. San Antonio, Jeremy; Suchan, P, Baylor.
10. Washington, Jonny Davis, Wisconsin.
11. A-New York, Osimane Deng, F, New Zealand (Australia).
12. Oklahoma City (from Los Angeles Clippers), Galen Williams, J., Santa Clara.
13. B Charlotte, Galen Doreen, C, Memphis.
14. Cleveland, Ochai Agbaji, C, Kansas.
15. Charlotte (from New Orleans), Mark Williams, Duke.
16. Atlanta, A. J. Griffin, f, Duke.
17. Houston (from Brooklyn), Tarry Eason, f, LSU.
18. Chicago, Dalene Terry, Arizona.
19. C-Mn, Jake LaRavia, W., Wake Forest.
20. San Antonio (from Toronto), Angel Branham, Ohio State.
21. Denver, Christian Brown, KS.
22. D-Memphis (from Utah), Walker Kessler, J, Auburn.
23. E. Philadelphia, David Rudy, P, Colorado State.
24. Milwaukee, Margon Beauchamp, J., J. Legg Ignite.
25. San Antonio (from Boston), Blake Wesley, Notre Dame.
26. f-Houston (from Dallas), Wendell Moore Jr., and, Duke.
27- Miami, Nikola Jovic, Mega (Serbia)
28. Golden State, Patrick Baldwin Jr., f, Milwaukee.
29. Memphis, Ty Washington Jr., Kentucky.
30. J. Oklahoma City (from Phoenix), Peyton Watson, and, University of California.
31. Indiana (from Houston via Cleveland), Andrew Nimbard, Gonzaga.
32. Orlando, Caleb Houston, Michigan.
33. Toronto (from Detroit via San Antonio, Washington and Chicago), Christian Colocco, f, Arizona.
34. Oklahoma City, Jaylene Williams, W., Arkansas.
35. Los Angeles Lakers (from Orlando via Indiana and Milwaukee), Max Christie, J., Michigan State.
36. Portland, Gabriele Procida, g, Fortitudo Bologna (Italy).
37. Sacramento, Jaden Hardy, J., J. Legg Ignite.
38. h-San Antonio (from Los Angeles Lakers via Chicago and Washington), Kennedy Chandler, Jl., Tennessee.
39. Cleveland (from San Antonio via Utah), Khalifa Diop, c, Gran Canaria (Spain).
40. i-Minnesota (from Washington via Cleveland), Bryce McGowens, g, Nebraska.
41. New Orleans, E. J. Liddell, P, Ohio State.
42. New York, Trevor Kells, Duke.
43. L.A. Clippers, Moussa Diabate, f, Michigan.
44. Atlanta, Ryan Rollins, Toledo.
45. Charlotte, Josh Minot, F, Memphis.
46. Y-Detroit (from Brooklyn), Ismail Kamagati, Paris (France).
47. Memphis (from Cleveland via New Orleans and Atlanta), Vince Williams Jr., Virginia Commonwealth University.
48. k-Minnesota, Kendall Brown, f, Baylor.
49. Sacramento (from Chicago via Memphis and Detroit), Isaiah Mobley, f, USC.
50. Minnesota (from Denver via Philadelphia), Matteo Spagnolo, Cremona (Italy).
51. L. Golden State (from Toronto via Philadelphia), Therese Martin, and, Ocon.
52. New Orleans (from Utah), Carlo Matkovic, Mega (Serbia).
53. Boston, J. D. Davison, J., Alabama.
Miami (from Philadelphia via Denver; lost by Miami)
54. Washington (from Dallas), Yannick Nzoza, C, Unicaja (Spain).
55. Golden State, Gui Santos, f, Minas (Brazil).
56. Cleveland (from Miami via Indiana), Luke Traverse, Perth (Australia).
57. Portland (from Memphis via Utah), Jabari Walker, F, Colorado.
58. Indiana (from Phoenix), Hugo Besson, New Zealand (Australia).
Oklahoma City from New York.
B – Detroit from Charlotte.
C – Memphis from Minnesota.
D- Minnesota from Memphis.
Memphis-e from Philadelphia.
And-Dallas from Houston.
J Denver from Oklahoma City.
H- Memphis from San Antonio.
I’m Charlotte from Minnesota.
J Denver from Detroit.
K-Indiana from Minnesota.
El Atlanta from Golden State.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.