Who are the biggest X-factors in the OKC Thunder vs Pelicans Play-in game?

Jaylin Williams #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Amanda Loman/Getty Images)
Jaylin Williams #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Amanda Loman/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Jalen Williams #8 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images) /

Can Jalen Williams continue to outpace what is “normal” for a rookie season? 

Jalen Williams has been excellent as a rookie for the Oklahoma City Thunder; he continues to impress with each passing game. This entire campaign has been filled with him outpacing what is considered normal for rookies. Usually, first-year players are not efficient. Usually, first-year players do not make a winning impact, and typically first-year players do not turn in a passing grade on the defensive end. Though, Jalen Williams has done all of those things.

The Lottery pick out of Santa Clara averaged 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists this season. Those numbers feature a 22-point outburst against the Pelicans this season.

Now, it is time for Jalen Williams to experience postseason basketball. The rookie will be tasked with defending Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum while being asked to play an aggressive role in the offense next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in a win-or-go-home game.

This is an atypical spot for a rookie, and Williams has performed well in these settings. Can he rise to the occasion again for the Oklahoma City Thunder?

As the hours dwindle before tip-off and anticipation builds, it is important to remember the message from Mark Daigneault “Win, lose, or draw. This is not an endpoint.” This Thunder team is still young and will that this experience in stride as a learning opportunity.

OKC Thunder players react to playing the Pelicans in the Play-In tournament. dark. Next