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OKC Thunder: Kenrich Williams' Importance Has Never Been Higher

After missing the end of last season with an injury, Kenrich Williams is set to play an important role for OKC again next season.
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Kenrich Williams missed the end of last season, but his importance was never questioned.

After a left wrist injury forced Williams to miss the final few weeks of the 2022-23 season, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s versatility took a hit. At 6-foot-6, Williams has shown his ability to defend every position, which has been a premium for the Thunder and their small-ball style of play.

Williams played about 10% of his minutes last season at center. While the addition of Chet Holmgren should limit how much he has to play the five, he will still be the Thunder’s best option when they want to go small.

With as valuable as Williams is defensively, he will make a solid case to be the first player off the bench for Oklahoma City next season. He is not the prototypical offensive-minded sixth man like Isaiah Joe, but he has few weaknesses in his game, especially for the role he will be asked to play.

Along with his defensive prowess, Williams’ rebounding helped the Thunder tremendously last season. He finished second behind Josh Giddey in offensive and total rebounds per game.

His experience playing big has only helped his rebounding. As Williams has spent many possessions trying to prevent opposing big men from getting rebounds, he has also found ways to navigate through boxouts and grab rebounds on the offensive end.

Like his defensive play style, Williams often wreaks havoc on opponents offensively with his movement and screening. But Williams has much more to his offensive repertoire than just doing the dirty work.

Williams can operate perfectly as a spot-up shooter for Oklahoma City. Last season, he shot 37.3% from 3-point range and was assisted on all of his makes.

Although Williams is a capable mid-range shooter and finisher, he has struggled mightily from the free-throw line. Only a 52% shooter for his career from the stripe, Williams shot a team-worst 43.6% last season.

While Williams does not get sent to the foul line often, if he does not improve from there, the Thunder could have to bench him in some situations. In the worst case, Williams could be intentionally fouled like former Thunder wing Andre Roberson to prevent or stop the team’s offensive rhythm.

Williams played more minutes per game than any other Thunder bench player last season. With his diverse skillset and invaluable off-court presence, he could be the most important non-starter for the Thunder again next season.

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