Al Horford: Kenrich Williams impressed early, is ‘mature beyond his years’

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Logan Newman
·2 min read
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Oklahoma City Thunder wing Kenrich Williams played one of the best games of his career against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, racking up a career-high 24 points to go with six rebounds and three steals.

After his performance, veteran Thunder center Al Horford said Williams has impressed him even before the games began.

“I’ve been talking about K-Rich since I first got here,” Horford said. “He really impressed me, just very early on.”

Williams, 26, arrived to the Thunder has part of the Steven Adams trade to the New Orleans Pelicans. He spent two years in NOLA, where he averaged 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds over 22.5 minutes per game.

With the Thunder, his stats are hovering around that level — 5.6 points and 3.4 boards in 16.6 minutes — but he’s showing energy, fight on defense and the consistent ability to make the right play at the right time.

Over his last five games, he’s averaging almost 13.8 points and 3.0 offensive rebounds per game. Those offensive boards directly correlated to one win — against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Williams grabbed three in the fourth quarter alone, which led to five second-chance points. Oklahoma City won by two.

“Very mature beyond his years, I feel like. He just understands what the team needs. He’s a team guy,” Horford said. “If he needs to get stops, he’s going to defend, he’s gonna get stops. If he needs to shoot the corner 3, if he needs to handle the ball. Whatever you need from him — guard a big, guard a small, he kind of does it all.”

On Wednesday, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out of the lineup, the Thunder needed an offensive boost. Williams was there, racking up 11 points in the first quarter alone. In total, he shot 11-for-14 from the field and made a pair of 3s.

Over his 24 games with the Thunder, Williams has carved out a role. He started as the energy guy and is turning into a productive athlete on both sides of the ball, and it has earned him starts in the lineup when others are injured.

With a team option of just $2 million in each of the next two seasons, Williams looks like a player who will remain a piece of the Thunder’s rotation beyond the immediate future.