The Thunder entered last year’s draft determined to come away with both Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Insider link), who takes a look back at how the team ensured it ended up with Williams late in the lottery. According to Windhorst, the Thunder were concerned that their interest in Williams had gotten out and that a team would trade for the Knicks’ pick at No. 11 to nab the Santa Clara star before Oklahoma City could take him at No. 12.
As Windhorst explains, the Thunder ultimately agreed to acquire the No. 11 pick from New York and used it to select Ousmane Dieng, then drafted Williams with their own pick at No. 12 — that way, if the deal with the Knicks fell through before becoming official, they’d still be assured of having Williams.
Williams is enjoying a strong rookie season for the Thunder, starting 45 of 58 games and averaging 12.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 3.1 APG while shooting 51.1% from the floor.