OKC Thunder: Analyzing Jaylin Williams potential role this season

Jaylin Williams #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Jaylin Williams #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /

When the OKC Thunder selected Jaylin Williams with the 34th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, it surprised many fans and pundits covering the team. For the entire draft process, it was assumed Oklahoma City was focusing on skilled wings with length and size. No one anticipated the Arkansas product would be selected at 34.

OKC Thunder rookie Jaylin Williams figures to be part of the wider rotation following injuries and trades this offseason. TI examines his potential role.

While wings are arguably the most important players on championship squads, there’s an increasing need for big bodies to control the paint. With OKC trading Derrick Favors, and Chet Holmgren out for the season, Jaylin Williams becomes the only legitimate big man on the roster.

When examining J-Will’s role with OKC, he could be a legit “enforcer.” The enforcers of today are a far cry from those of yesteryear but Williams’ skillset screams enforcer.

Not in a dirty sense but as a physical presence, and hustler, similar to former OKC Thunder big man Steven Adams.

At Arkansas, he was the heartbeat of the team and had an outstanding NCAA Tournament. He was impressive in his matchups against Top two picks Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren. Williams physically battered Gonzaga’s front court of Holmgren and Drew Timmie and posterized Banchero in Arkansas Sweet 16 loss.

His counting numbers during the tournament were great, averaging 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists but his efficiency was sub-optimal shooting 41 percent from the floor and adding just 25 percent from deep and only making his free throws at a 78 percent clip.

Williams is a solid screen setter who creates lanes for his ball handler due to his size. He is fearless rolling to the cup and challenges defenders above the rim despite not having an elite athletic ability.

The OKC Thunder possess two elite-level ball handlers in Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who will find him in pick-and-roll sets.

Perhaps Jaylin Williams’s greatest strength is his ability to take a charge and grab rebounds. He was the best charge-taker in the nation last season, drawing 54. He is a clever defender who plays tough in drop coverage but reads offensive players to step in front and draw the foul.

Williams is 6’10, 240 pounds with a 7’2 wingspan with high defensive IQ, and relishes physical play. He’s got great feet, timing, and toughness.

He is also a fantastic rebounder ranking 6th in the NCAA, and 15th in double-doubles. The Thunder were a top-10 rebounding team last season but really lacked a big body to compete for 50-50 balls.

He gives Oklahoma City much-needed muscle in the paint.

Nick Collison is a cult hero in Oklahoma City and was the perfect glue guy, the definition of a blue-collar player. Williams is destined for a similar role.

Like Collison, Williams is a fantastic passer and understands how to lead players into space. In a preseason game against Dallas, Williams threaded the needle to lead Eugene Omoruyi to the bucket.


He is also exceptional during broken plays and processes the game quickly. The Thunder do a great job generating shots on the perimeter via the drive and kick but using a big to pass from the block is a great way to utilize some of the team’s athleticism.

Oklahoma City can bring back the famous Nick Collison-back cut that was a staple for many years.

Williams will take some time to develop but will be crucial when games are decided on 50-50 balls. He is a physical presence the OKC Thunder need with the roster full of rail-thin wings. I believe Presti selected the Arkansas big man due to his similarity to Collison and Mark Daignault will give him playing time right away.

It will be an interesting season ahead. How many minutes per game do you think J-Will gets this year?

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