By Madisen Carter
Santa Clara alum, Jalen Williams, has been smoothly transitioning into the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Williams was drafted 12th overall by OKC and said his experience so far in the league and with his team has been surreal.
“Obviously, the process of being drafted was incredible and indescribable,” Williams said. “Now, playing with such a young team, we all get along so well. It's made the transition really easy just because we're all able to learn together. So it's been fun, just trying to embrace every part of it.”
For Williams, the adjustment to NBA play from college basketball play has been going well. He said it has been more physical, but said so far the traveling schedule has been the most hectic for him. Although there might be plane delays and different time zone changes, Williams said it has been fun. He is getting to travel to places he has never been before and experience new things such as visiting the White House.
On the court, Williams has been able to showcase the skills he has acquired and all the hard work he has put in the game, including the hours he put in the months leading up to the NBA Draft. As he was preparing for draft and the NBA combine this past summer in Santa Barbara, that is where he met Unlimited Potential Basketball’s Coach Packie Turner. Williams said their time together in Santa Barbara really helped his development and they have been working out together ever since.
“[Packie and I] just have a really good connection, [it is] kind of just one of those natural things,” Williams said. “He's helped me out a lot, [and] he's actually made my transition a lot smoother… I think he understands my game really well which is kind of a big thing.”
Packie has been able to travel to Oklahoma City multiple times so far this season and will continue to travel to OKC to work with Williams throughout the season. Packie started his travels back in the summer when he went to Las Vegas for the Summer League and worked out with Williams there as well, getting him ready to play in an NBA game for the first time.
With all of his preparation, workouts and watching film, Williams showed out in this year’s preseason games, proving what he can bring to the table for the young team. In all five games he scored in the double digits and even had a 21-point game to end the preseason against the San Antonio Spurs. He finished the preseason with a total of 72 points, 26 assists and 15 rebounds.
In the 11 regular season games he has played so far in the NBA, Williams is averaging 8.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He has scored in every game so far this season and has scored in the double digits four times. His best game yet was on Monday when the Thunder traveled to TD Garden to play the Boston Celtics. Williams finished with a total of 14 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists.
Growing up as a Los Angeles Lakers fan, Williams said it was surreal playing in TD Garden against the Celtics. The atmosphere, the history of the arena, and the rivalry between the Lakers and the Celtics made it a cool experience for Williams and a fun game to play in.
With the NBA regular season starting up only last month, Williams has more than enough time to make his mark on the OKC team. Williams said the biggest thing for him this season is to not be in the same place he was at the beginning of the year. He wants to get better every time he steps on the court and to understand the game more.
Williams and OKC will travel to Tennessee tomorrow to take on the Memphis Grizzlies. We all at UPB wish Williams good luck the rest of this season!
Julius Randle has been the epitome of constant growth and improvement season after season since his debut in 2014. After an impressive 2022-2023 season with the Knicks averaging 25.1 points per game on 46% shooting, Randle seeks to continue building on last season’s success and contributing to a winning franchise. Although the start of the Knicks’ season has not gone exactly to plan, Randle has showcased his veteran poise and innate ability to continue elevating his game as the long NBA season treads on.