The Oklahoma City Thunder saw a massive leap in wins this season, jumping to a 40-42 record. Even while losing second-overall pick Chet Holmgren for the entire season, the OKC Thunder saw Jalen Williams carry the load for the rookie class. The Santa Clara product was so good. He finished runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting. All this after being selected 12th in the 2022 NBA Draft as a late bloomer.
Jalen Williams watched his stock climb during the NBA Combine process, but he was quick to note, even before Draft night, that the OKC Thunder were one of the first teams to show serious interest in Williams.
The Oklahoma City Thunder earned a postseason bid during Jalen Williams’s rookie campaign, and he quickly learned some lessons.
The OKC Thunder saw Jalen Williams finish second in Rookie of the Year voting after averaging 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists per game. On the defensive end, posting 1.9 STOCKS per game. The Santa Clara rookie turned in a jaw-dropping 52 percent from the floor and 35 percent from beyond the arc.
The Thunder earned a postseason bid, playing in the NBA Play-In tournament for two games, falling a win shy of an NBA Playoff Series against the Denver Nuggets. In those two postseason games, the Rookie swing man learned a lot.
Jalen Williams said that postseason basketball is a lot more physical than the Regular Season. Mentioned the atmosphere of the game as well, the shirts and the crowd being loud “people are cheering during layup lines” said the experience will “catapult us forward”
Jalen Williams has an All-Star level future, which was first said by Kenrich Williams in the onset of Thunder training camp way back in October.
The rookie did not disappoint, with his astonishing rim finishing, hitting shots near the tin at a 70 percent clip. On non-corner triples, Jalen Williams stepped into them and nailed them at a 39 percent clip according to cleaning the glass.
Though, his offensive numbers were not the only eye-popping aspect of his first season. Defensively, Williams used his length to disrupt passing lanes, disturb shooters, and disburse out to the perimeter to close out on shooters. Throughout the season, the 22 year old matched up with every position on the court, making good use of his 6’6 frame and admittedly long arms.
The OKC Thunder core seems poised for many more postseason runs, so learning these lessons in year one is great experience for Williams and company.