The Oklahoma City Thunder have continued to pile on the recognition and accolades this NBA season. Mark Daigneault finished second in Coach of the Year, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander did the same for the most improved player award, and Jalen Williams is now tabbed as the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year honor.
The OKC Thunder shocked a lot of people this season by winning 40 games, finishing two wins shy of a .500 record, and a game away from the NBA Playoffs. Even after seeing their second overall pick, the lone top-five selection of this rebuild, Chet Holmgren, go down for the entire season back in August.
Jalen Williams was tabbed runner-up for the NBA Rookie of the Year award, the highest finish in franchise history for the honor.
After Chet Holmgren went down, the team’s third lottery pick from the 2022 NBA Draft, Jalen Williams, carried the rookie production.
The Santa Clara product turned in 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal per contest while shooting 52 percent from the floor and 35 percent from beyond the arc.
Jalen Williams showed All-Star potential throughout his 75-game rookie campaign, making 62 starts in that span. At the rim, Williams shot 70 percent at the rim (ranking in the 80th percentile), 39 percent on non-corner triples, and 40 percent in the mid-range, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Synergy pegged Jalen Williams as a “very good” offensive player, posting 1.139 points per possession. Williams is an excellent pick-and-roll ball handler that can facilitate an offense while reading the defense like a Twilight novel to help the Thunder score.
Williams is great in transition, a isolation scorer when necessary, and can play without the ball in his hands, thriving off hand-offs, screens, cuts, and as the pick-and-roll man. This includes a 53 percent true shooting percentage on catch-and-shoot jumpers.
Ultimately, first overall pick Paolo Banchero won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, collecting all but two first-place votes. Utah Jazz big man Walker Kessler earned the other two first-place votes. However, Jalen Williams finished second comfortably by over 100 points thanks to securing 75 second-place votes.
This second place finish is the highest in Oklahoma City Thunder franchise history. Russell Westbrook earned a fourth place finish in 2009, while Steven Adams was tied for seventh in 2014 for the honor.