The Oklahoma City Thunder bet on growth with the 12th overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, picking Santa Clara Jalen Williams. The team was so pleased with this choice that after 22 picks they took a player with the exact same name.
Yes, the Thunder picked Jalen Williams and Jalyn Williams in the same draft. The names are spelled differently but pronounced the same, which can lead to confusion at press conferences and on the air.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti realized this could be a problem and found a temporary fix Thursday night.
Presti broke it down by college. Speaking of Jalen Williams, Presti added “Santa Clara.” Speaking of Jaylene Williams, Presti said Arkansas. It’s probably not a long term solution, but it did the job on Thursday.
Jalen Williams and Jaylene Williams are used to jokes
Jalen and Jaylin Williams are already somewhat familiar with this particular situation. During the preliminaries, they joked with each other about sharing the same name.
The two would tell each other to “go somewhere else” if they were in the same room at the mill. Now that they are on the same team, it will be much more difficult.
Thunder head coach Mark Dino will have to find a more permanent solution. He may refer to Jalen Williams as “Santa Clara” and to Jalyn Williams as “Arkansas”, although this is inhuman. He can do something creative with the letters “E” and “I” to distinguish between them. He can hope that one of them prefers to be called “Jay”, which would be very convenient.
Until a better solution is found, there will be confusion. But if both Jalen and Jaylin work and they spend a lot of time together creating highlights on the court, it will be worth the jokes about Presti taking on two players with the same name.