Isaiah Joe, Jaylin Williams Unlock New Dynamics in Thunder’s Offense

Isaiah Joe #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Amanda Loman/Getty Images)
Isaiah Joe #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Amanda Loman/Getty Images) /

When All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was listed out of Oklahoma City’s nationally televised game versus the Phoenix Suns, Isaiah Joe was inserted into the starting lineup with the expectation of complementing usual starters Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, and Jalen Williams’ shot creation.

Not only did Joe swiftly thrust himself into the starters, he also inherited the rotational load of Gilgeous-Alexander. In return, he provided stellar shotmaking and unbolted another dimension of offense for the Thunder.

Isaiah Joe, Jaylin Williams, are unlocking new wrinkles to the OKC Thunder offense.

Isaiah Joe, who played 38 minutes, dropped a career-high 28 points, shot 6-of-12 from three-point range, and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the charge for OKC in the loss against the Suns, 115-124.

“Teammates are finding me, I was in the right position, knocking down shots,” Joe said about his superb performance.

Joe is shooting at 45% from three and is making 57.7% on left corner triples, 46.2% on right-corner triples, 43.7% on above-the-break treys, and even 51.6% on pull-up midrangers this season.

His showing was not only a testament to his potential as an offensive cornerstone for this team but also to the Thunder’s offensive dynamics through rookie Jaylin Williams.

Williams, commonly referred to as J-Will, tallied 10 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Beyond his defense, his footprints are all over the Thunder’s offensive schemes without SGA.

Sliding in as the Thunder’s starting center since Aleksej Pokusevski and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s injuries, Williams is shooting 52% from deep on three attempts per game in February. Against the Suns, he made two threes on four attempts, right in line with his average.

Williams has displayed that he is capable as a play connector, a valve on dribble-handoffs, and a savant at screens and pindowns. This was most apparent when he was playing off Joe’s gravity.

Lineups with Williams and Joe have a net rating of +11.52 in 162 minutes so far. They feed off each other’s feel and newfound confidence with the ball.

One thing that stood out against the Suns was Williams’ ability to nullify defensive reads with perfectly timed screens, exhibiting his value as a smart roller on such situations.

Williams is rarely, if ever, a rolling threat this season, but his quick wit as a screener provides Joe enough separation from a seemingly confused defense to pull the trigger.

Their corner pindowns were also a sight to behold for Thunder fans. Joe navigates through Williams’ wide body to punish defensive coverages that either decide to eliminate Joe’s three point shot, Williams’ outside threat, or Joe’s baseline incursions.

The chemistry was evident and the confidence injected by their fine plays should manifest more in the remainder of the season. Once OKC buys in, that should give the Thunder an additional layer of offense around Gilgeous-Alexander, Giddey, Jalen Williams, and Dort.

The potential of this Joe’s display with Chet Holmgren should also be worth salivating for Oklahoma City as Holmgren, who is slated for his debut next season, could be a much more versatile partner for Joe on a two-man game than Williams in the long run.

Until then, Isaiah Joe, 23, and Williams’, 20,  growth and connection should foster more. While the Thunder continues to build on their surprise success this season, bits like these will make the team’s repertoire richer.

Unless otherwise mentioned, stats are sourced from, and PBP Stats

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