Kenrich Williams is becoming one of the most important players at OKC Thunder

Kenrich Williams has never been the most talented player among his peers, but he has always got the job and makes the plays that will lead winning games. In his first season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he is quietly set to become one of the most important players on the roster.

Renowned for bringing energy and spark whenever he touches the floor, Williams earned the nickname “Kenny Hustle” early in his college career. After not offering Division I offers to come out of high school and play a year of Junior College basketball, Williams finally made his way to Texas Christian University and completed a course- successful college life. He would then go unconditional in the 2018 NBA Draft and spend his first two NBA seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans.

After earning a total of 136 points last season, Williams has averaged 135 points through 24 games this season in Oklahoma City. This has largely been due to an increase in 3-point firing efficiency, where it burned 40.7 percent in the 2020-21 campaign.

Williams has also been one of the biggest contributors to Oklahoma City’s defensive success this season. It has the best defense rating of any player on the Thunder roster who plays more than ten minutes per game.

Early in the season Williams talked about how success on the court is about effort and just taking everything you have while you’re on the floor. In his eyes, it’s an attempt at why he’s currently playing in the NBA after all he’s been through.

“I’m proud to play hard,” said Williams. “I feel that way why I’m in the league now. ”

To Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault, there is a turn that Williams is able to turn when he touches the floor that makes him so special.

“The minute he crosses the line, the turnaround will be competitive for him,” said Daigneault. “It can be a habit, it can be 3-on-3, it can be at the end of a blowout or the first minute of the game, it can be home or on the road, rain or shine, it just going to introduce it. “

Over the past several games, the Thunder have been limited to eight players due to injuries, health and safety protocols, and G League specifications. Through this expansion, Williams ’flexibility is needed more than ever. As a leader who can fill any role the team needs, he is able to provide the representation to fill any gap left by every team member who misses the game.

Wednesday night against the Lakers, it was that empty space that filled the scoring, as he dropped 24 points at career level. Other nights, it’s like being the team’s locking defender or having to play in a small ball line and slow down rebounds. His teammates have begun to recognize just how much he does for the Thunder, especially Al Horford who he praised after a recent game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“It’s older than years. He understands what the team needs, ”said Horford. “He does it all.”

Williams, although 26 years old, is just in his third NBA season. As valuable as he has been to this point in his career, he still has plenty of space and time to develop. The way he plays warrants many more years ahead of his NBA career, even beyond his current contract with Thunder Oklahoma City, worth $ 2 million annually over the next three seasons.