One of the most exciting aspects of the 22-23 season for the Oklahoma City Thunder was the rookie season of Jalen Williams. The 6’5 forward out of Santa Clara was drafted at pick 12 by OKC, quickly emerging as one of the best rookies in his class.
Williams ended the season with averages of 14 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, three assists per game, and a steal per game. He shot 52 percent from the field, including 35 percent from three. Williams is also a top three for the Rookie of the Year award finalist alongside Paolo Banchero and Walker Kessler.
Jalen Williams caps off a fantastic Rookie Season with the OKC Thunder.
While Williams struggled with efficiency at times throughout the season, like most rookies, by the end of the season he came into his own as one of Oklahoma City’s top offensive threats.
The forward found most of his points at the basket, where he was incredibly efficient for a rookie. Williams shot above league average at the rim with 61 percent. While he did not get to the line at a high rate, he capitalized well with a free throw percentage of 81 percent.
Williams hovered around the league average 3 point shooting percentage, finishing at a 35 percent clip, which put him as the eight highest percentage shooter amongst rookies. Williams’ shooting will come with time, and it is something the forward will likely focus on in the offseason.
Defensively, the Williams was also impressive. While only listed at 6’5, his long wingspan allowed him to guard much bigger defenders, while also utilizing his quickness to defend smaller guards. Williams also provides plenty of switch ability since he can guard so many positions.
Williams had the lowest defensive rating of any rookie this season at 114, and put up several multi-steal and block games. The defensive core of the Thunder with Williams is exciting, and it should only get better as the rookie continues to learn the NBA game.
Another strong element of the rookie’s game is experience and maturity. Williams played three seasons of college basketball, which prepared him well to adapt to the NBA game and look like a seasoned veteran, boding well for his future progression.
From where Oklahoma City drafted Williams, there is nothing but good things to say about his rookie season. Sam Presti has to be happy with getting a top three rookie outside of the top 10 picks in the draft, who only seems like he will get better with age.
Season grade: A+
As for improvements in his sophomore season, it comes down to aggressiveness. I would like to see Williams shoot the ball more, which is likely as his confidence and role in the offense grow.
There is a ton of excitement amongst Thunder fans about Jalen Williams, and I can’t wait to see his progression in year two.