In hindsight, it’s easy to overlook what Jaylin Williams brought to the OKC Thunder. On a team lacking frontline bodies, the six-foot-ten rookie from Arkansas has proven his value as a serviceable big man.
Williams’ six points, five rebounds, and two assists per game on 36 starts in 49 games played this season do not quite capture the production he brings to the Thunder on both ends of the floor.
Recapping the rookie season of second-round pick Jaylin Williams
Jaylin Williams has shown his touch and solid feel throughout his first NBA season, especially from long range. He shot 41 percent from the three-point line and was within or above the league average on all areas (corners, wings, and top of the key) of the three-point arc.
He was somewhat consistent in punishing defenders that sag or play-drop against him. Aside from his outside marksmanship, Williams has proved to be a solid hub on dribble handoffs, tapping on the movement shooting of the likes of Isaiah Joe and Lindy Waters, if not on downhill drives from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Jalen Williams.
Jaylin Williams’ style of play is straightforward and far from complex. He tends to capitalize on his teammates’ gravity and opponents’ tendency to relax versus him. He displayed a good use of pump fakes that resulted in paint touches from penetrations that either resulted in a shot or a kick out pass.
In the rebounding department, he seemed to have solid outputs on games. His rebound average throughout the season on about 19 minutes per game is a fine tally for Williams.
Williams’ bread-and-butter has never been his offensive repertoire, but this season has proved his upside and capabilities as a contributor on the offensive end. That contribution, however, was tenfold on the other end.
Talking about Jaylin Williams will never be complete without discussing his ability to take offensive charges. He led the league on total charges drawn this season with 43, 10 more than the second-most number of 33 from Kevin Love.
The OKC Thunder led the league on charges drawn this season with 118 and Williams has played a huge part for that, topping that list which also included thunder players Kenrich Williams, who drew 26 charges (4th), and Joe, who had 20 (7th).
While he provided terrific value on drawing charges, there is still a lot to work on his perimeter defense. Williams, though, has shown that he has quick and capable feet to contain perimeter players and not get blown by on close-outs.
Of course, teams remained hellbent on trying to put him on an island defensively, but the rookie has risen to the occasion on most defensive stretches as he played a considerable part on the Thunder’s rise to a play-in spot this season.
Jaylin Williams has played a role designated to do the dirty work and complement the team’s stars. That and some of his offensive showcases has made him one of the most under-the-radar, promising rookie this season. As Chet Holmgren returns next season, Williams will continue to thrive even in a reduced role.