Even after an excellent rookie season in which he helped his team earn the No. 1 seed in a gauntlet of a Western Conference, the questions persisted. How would the lithe, 7-foot-1, 208-pound Oklahoma City Thunder center Chet Holmgren handle playoff physicality?

The early returns are in, and the answer is "very well." At this point in this series, the question actually seems downright ridiculous. After averaging 17 points, eight rebounds and landing fifth in the NBA in blocks per game during the regular season, Holmgren has carried his impressive performance directly into his first playoff appearance. While helping OKC to a 2-0 lead over the New Orleans Pelicans, Holmgren has required little adjustment time.

After a rough start to Game 1, Holmgren has put up 38 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks in his last seven quarters on 14-for-20 shooting, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range. That includes a 26-point, seven-rebound performance in Wednesday's 124-92 Game 2 blowout -- a victory that gave OKC a 2-0 series lead.

It's even more notable that Holmgren is doing this against one of the NBA's few remaining back-to-the-basket, bully-ball threats in Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas. You want physicality and strength? Valanciunas brings it as much as any center in the league. Sure, Valanciunas has put Holmgren under the basket occasionally, but the rookie has certainly held his own. More often than not, Mark Daigneault and the Thunder are perfectly happy if Valanciunas is the focal point of the New Orleans offense, and are fine with Holmgren guarding the big man one-on-one if necessary.

They can live with Holmgren being bullied from time to time because of the elite rim protection he brings every second he's on the floor. Owner of a 7-foot-6 wingspan, Holmgren is equally adept at blocking shots on the ball or as a helper, and his early mastery of the art of verticality helps him avoid foul trouble (he averaged just 2.4 fouls per game during the regular season). He had five blocks in Game 1 alone, and they showcased impeccable mobility and timing.

On the other end, Holmgren forces Valanciunas (or backup Larry Nance Jr.) to contend with him on the perimeter, opening up lanes for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (who Holmgren called the "MVP of the league" after the Game 2 win), Jalen Williams and a Thunder team that led the league in drives per game by a wide margin. OKC scored 42 points in the paint in Game 1, and followed that up with 48 in Game 2. 

That's largely due to the spacing Holmgren creates, but he's also more than capable of scoring near the basket himself when called upon. Try telling Brandon Ingram that Holmgren isn't strong enough for playoff basketball.

While it's only been two games, Holmgren has already shown his fearlessness and ability to carry his brilliance from the regular season into the playoffs. He'll be instrumental as the top-seeded Thunder attempt to make it out of a talented Western Conference, and so far, his slight frame hasn't been a significant part of the discussion.