Through just his first 20 games, Jaylin Williams' combination of shooting, passing, and defense has shone bright for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After being drafted 34th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, Jaylin Williams is seizing his limited opportunities to show the Oklahoma City Thunder why he’s a center worth keeping around.
Through his first 20 NBA games, Williams is averaging just over 14 minutes of playing time. While that’s not a huge sample size to draw conclusions from, the early returns are promising.
Per 75 possessions, he’s averaging a double-double, scoring 11.8 points and grabbing 10.4 rebounds. He’s also finding 3.1 assists thanks to his ability to read the defense and make a variety of passes, both out of the post and on the move. That’s also the highest mark for a rookie center this season.
Williams is also hitting 1.5 3-pointers per 75. Out of rookies listed at the power forward or center position, that’s the fourth-best mark. The top three — Jabari Smith, Jake LaRavia, and David Roddy — attempt around six triples per 75. Williams averages just 3.3.
And don’t be fooled by his 46.2% shooting on 2-pointers, which is low for a center.. Williams attempts a variety of shots from all over the floor; he doesn’t just post-up or roll, like some bigs. It’s not uncommon to see Williams taking mid-range jumpers or putting up floaters or hook shots.
Williams is no ordinary center, either.
Listed at 6-foot-9, the former Arkansas Razorback is slightly shorter than your average NBA big. His 7-foot-1 wingspan pales in comparison to other front court players around the league such as Joel Embiid, Steven Adams, and Jarrett Allen.
Despite his lack of height and length, Williams is still finding ways to compete thanks to his thick frame.
Using all 240 pounds, Williams is excellent at setting screens and then re-screening if needed, forcing defenders to take a detour, and allowing his teammates to get into the teeth of the defense or creating enough space for an open 3-pointer.
Williams’ weight and strength also affords him the cushion to bang with larger bigs around the league and even push them off their lines. It also helps him take charges at a high rate. In fact, Williams’ 1.6 charges drawn per 36 minutes is currently the second-highest mark in the entire league. Only Udonis Haslem, who has played just 47 minutes, bests him.
Put all of it together, and Williams, with limited opportunity, has done a phenomenal job of showcasing his potential as a glue-guy moving forward. He can defend reasonably well, set effective screens, space the floor, and both pass and handle the ball to a degree that sets him apart from other centers, bringing a degree of uniqueness and versatility to the Thunder’s center position.
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