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Thunder's Daigneault praises Jalen Williams: 'He's had a productive summer'

David Berding / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Mark Daigneault recognizes the work that Jalen Williams is putting in.

The Oklahoma City Thunder head coach gave his young wing props for improving over his first offseason after his rookie campaign.

"He's worked really hard," Daigneault told Steve Aschburner of "Physically and skill-wise, he's had a really productive summer. He was with the Team USA Select team. … It's hard to place specific expectations on what will change, but I know he’s improved. I give him a lot of credit for the way he’s gone about it.

"He understands the importance of the little things in the game. He understands cutting, he understands spacing, he understands running, he understands simple ball movement. He’s a great defender because he really competes at his size."

The Thunder drafted Williams with the 12th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft after he spent three years at Santa Clara. The 22-year-old averaged 14.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.4 steals during his debut season, finishing behind the Orlando Magic's Paolo Banchero for Rookie of the Year.

Williams was instrumental in helping Oklahoma City improve from 24 wins during the 2021-22 season to 40 last campaign. Rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander took another step, averaging a career-high 31.4 points en route to an All-NBA first-team selection. The Thunder just missed out on a playoff appearance, as they were eliminated in the play-in tournament.

"He’s someone who has built a really strong foundation for his game," Daigneault said of Williams. "In the games where he doesn’t have his best output or get the most usage, he’s still highly effective because he’s doing all those other things."

The Thunder play their first preseason contest on Oct. 9th against the San Antonio Spurs.

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