Jaylin Williams will not be played off the floor in the NBA postseason.
The Oklahoma City Thunder fought through a ton of adversity. Even before the season, losing their top pick, Chet Holmgren, for the entire year thanks to a Lisfranc Fracture suffered in August.
The hits kept coming during the season, seeing Aleksej Pokusevski, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and Kenrich Williams go down with long-term injuries. This thrusted Jaylin Williams into a starting role for the varsity club after primarily playing with the NBA G-League squad.
The Arkansas produced played well after adjusting to the pace of play and understanding the force it takes to play at this level and quickly became a fan-favorite. From his league-leading charge-taking ability to yelling “Boom!” every time he knocked down a triple, it was easy to root for the smiling rookie.
In the NBA postseason, Jaylin Williams was tasked with facing off against all kinds of NBA big men. From Jonas Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes to Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. In postseason games, the style of play changes. It is often hard for bigs, especially rookie bigs, to stay on the court.
Jaylin Williams logged 32 and 22 minutes, respectively, in the NBA Play-In tournament games and thrived in his role. The encouraging part for the OKC Thunder is when healthy, Williams will be coming off the bench.
When you only rely on the 20-year-old for off-the-bench spurts to change the pace and provide that “ground rim protection,” as Mark Daigneault calls it, he gets even more valuable.
He proved over these two games and the back half of the season he deserves a spot in the rotation—a pretty good result for a season that started with G-League triple-doubles.