OKC’s other draft-night mission, plus the future of Wilt’s storied record

Brian Windhorst and a team of Sportzshala insiders dig into life and news in and around the NBA world, including Jalen Williams’ Oklahoma City Thunder touchdown, law school NBA competition, and Wilt Chamberlain’s future 100-point record.

At the start of the NBA draft in June, the Oklahoma City Thunder had two goals:

— Get Chet Holmgren

— Get Jalen Williams

The first one was easier; Holmgren was not number one with the Orlando Magic, who limited their picks to Jabari Smith Jr. and Paolo Banchero. The Thunder, number 2, had been targeting Holmgren for weeks.

As for Williams, he is one of the developing stories in this class of rookies. And getting it underscored the importance of how a crazy half-hour on draft night, when the Thunder, New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets maneuvered a series of trades, had a significant impact on this season.

Sitting on the Thunder’s perimeter alongside All-Star Shai Gilgeus-Alexander and 2021 lottery pick Josh Giddy, Williams already looks like one of the best players in the 2022 class. Since January 1, Williams has averaged 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals, and has played the most minutes with the roster.

At a pivotal moment, Williams was assigned to guard LeBron James on the night he set an NBA scoring record in Los Angeles on February 7. in the spotlight, scoring 25 points on seven rebounds and six steals in the OKC win.

It was a revealing moment along with Gilgeous-Alexander who had 30 points and Giddy who had 20 for the future Thunder.

“He’s one of those guys who loves every hurdle you put in front of him, he gets over it,” Thunder coach Mark Degno said of Williams. “The way you help him get better is you give him those opportunities and then make sure they learn from it one way or another.”

However, the Thunder had to get Williams first.


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