Jalen Williams was not a highly-touted prospect coming out of Santa Clara. There were questions about the legitimacy of his collegiate performance, given the less-than-stellar competition he had to face. Moreover, it’s unclear whether his incredible measurements – the reason behind the incredible rise in his draft stock – would translate to the professional level. But evidently, the Oklahoma City Thunder knew what they were doing when they drafted this bundle of energy with the 12th overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft.
On Tuesday night, the Thunder rookie had another showing befitting of someone who has more experience in the NBA. Against the Brooklyn Nets, Williams put up 23 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals on 8-10 shooting from the field. In doing so, the 6’6 guard has managed to put up a stretch of incredibly efficient volume scoring.
Over the past 14 games, Jalen Williams has averaged 20.2 points on an eye-popping 67.2 percent True Shooting. (To put that in perspective, Stephen Curry has a 66.8 percent TS on the season.) As a result, the Thunder guard broke the record Shaquille O’Neal put up (66.6 percent) for the highest TS percentage over a 14-game stretch for a rookie who’s averaging 20 or more points during that span, according to NBA Stats (stats_mediocre) on Twitter.
Simply put, what Williams is doing is unprecedented. It’s a testament to his ability to play within his strengths; in particular, Williams seems to have taken a page out of his Thunder teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s book with how silky he looks in his drives to the hoop. Moreover, it’s rare that Williams takes ill-advised shots, which should also speak volumes to how well the Thunder staff have developed the fledging rookie.
Most rookie guards struggle with efficiency woes, seeing as the level of competition in the NBA is higher and it, understandably, takes youngsters time to acclimate to the speed of the game. However, Jalen Williams has no such problems as he plays at his own pace. And if you’re in company with the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, you really are doing something right (unless it has anything to do with free-throw shooting).
It remains to be seen just how high Williams can fly. But one thing’s for sure: the Thunder have another keeper on their hands.