After being thrusted into a starting role during the second-half of the season, rookie big man Jaylin Williams showed his value for the OKC Thunder.
Discussion about the future of the big man spot for the Thunder involves Chet Holmgren first and foremost. But he shouldn’t be the only name included. Jaylin Williams is much more than just a one-season replacement while waiting on Holmgren.
Williams did many good things in his rookie year, especially considering his situation. The Thunder selected him early in the second round and spent most of the season’s first two months out of the lineup.
Mark Daigneault inserted him into the starting lineup against Charlotte in late December. It was his first of 36 starts last season. Over the next month, Williams worked his way into a starting role for the rest of the season.
Although nothing pops off the stat sheet, Williams provided a particular skill. He led the entire league in charges drawn with 43. It was a knack of OKC’s supporting cast to sacrifice their bodies to earn extra possessions, as Kenrich Williams and Isaiah Joe also finished in the top seven.
While Williams doesn’t fit the typical OKC Thunder prospect by creating for himself off the dribble, he does provide shooting. He shot 40 percent from three on more than two attempts per game. Considering Holmgren’s looming return, Williams’s production may be perfect for OKC moving forward. Along with his playmaking chops at the top of the key as a passer, a screener, and ability to create separation for shooters like Isaiah Joe on hand-offs.
At 18 minutes per game last season, Williams played a similar amount to what the OKC Thunder will look for in a backup center. Given his chemistry with the rest of the team, his shooting ability and his defensive skillset, Williams could fill the back-up big man role seamlessly next season.