Jalen Williams has followed up his stellar rookie season with an incredible start to his sophomore campaign. So far this season, Williams has shown improvements across the board in many major categories.
The biggest improvement that has become evident over the course of the season for Williams has been his refined playmaking skills and volume.
Mark Daigneault has gained a noticeable amount of trust in Williams, as he has seen increased ball-handling responsibilities and opportunities as the lead guard.
Jalen Williams has made a leap as a playmaker, and it is unlocking the Thunder's offense.
On face value, there is an increase in the number of assists Williams is creating, jumping from just over three per game last season to four and a half per game this season.
The evolution and efficiency of Jalen Williams' game have really opened the door for his playmaking to blossom. Williams has become ultra-efficient operating in the mid-range, as he has shot 58 percent from 10 to 16 feet this season.
Defenses have had to adjust to Williams' ability to be lethal in the mid-range, opening windows for passes and lobs. One of the most noteworthy and impressive improvements in Williams' skills has been his vision on cuts. Many times this season, he has slipped passes to elite off-ball movers such as Aaron Wiggins and Isaiah Joe.
This season, the Thunder play with the seventh-fastest pace in the league, and Williams has been a huge part of it. He ranks fourth on the Thunder in individual pace and is the highest out of the major ball-handlers. Often, he has been able to push the ball to give his teammates easy looks.
Drop coverage hasn't been effective on Williams either, as his three-point efficiency is some of the best around the league. He is shooting over 45 percent from beyond the arc this season, and defenses struggle to choose the coverage when guarding him.
Since the new year has ticked over, Williams has had one of the best stretches of his career. In 2024, he has raised his assist average to just under six dimes per game, and his scoring has jumped to 21 per game.
The chemistry Jalen Williams has formed has also played a role in his playmaking ability. Chet Holmgren has been very efficient as the roll man this season, generating 1.4 points per possession with him as the roll man. Jalen Williams has thrown many lobs to him when the defense has stepped up and hit him on pops when the opposition has anticipated the drive or entry pass.
Over a two-game stretch in early January, Williams had back-to-back games of double-digit assists, helping the Thunder achieve two road wins over the Wizards and Heat.
In those games, Williams assisted Holmgren seven times, with four of those assists being lobs. He also assisted Aaron Wiggins four times, including three times in a row against Washington.
There have been many factors that have unlocked Williams' playmaking ability this season, but increased ball-handling responsibility at a faster pace has worked wonders for his game.
The awareness he has shown on cuts and lobs has impressed coaches and the front office, and he has been a truly difficult player to guard as the improved facilitating has made him a lethal offensive weapon for the Thunder.