The Hoop Collective: OKC's other draft-night mission, plus the future of Wilt's storied record

The Oklahoma City Thunder had been watching Jalen Williams back when he played for mid-major Santa Clara. AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Brian Windhorst and a team of ESPN's Insiders sort out life and the news from in and around the NBA world, including the Oklahoma City Thunder landing Jalen Williams, an NBA competition for college law students and the future of Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point record.

At the start of the NBA draft in June, the Oklahoma City Thunder had two missions:

-- Get Chet Holmgren

-- Get Jalen Williams

The first one was simpler; Holmgren wasn't going No. 1 to the Orlando Magic, who had limited their choices to Jabari Smith Jr. and Paolo Banchero. The Thunder, with the No. 2 pick, had zeroed in on Holmgren for weeks.

As for Williams, he is one of the developing stories of this rookie class. And getting him has underscored the importance of how a wild half-hour on draft night, one that saw the Thunder, New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets maneuver a series of trades, has had a significant impact on this season.

Slotting into the Thunder perimeter next to All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and 2021 lottery pick Josh Giddey, Williams is already looking like one of the best players in the 2022 class. Since Jan. 1, Williams is averaging 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals, and he has played the most minutes on the roster.

In a defining moment, Williams was given the assignment of guarding LeBron James the night he set the NBA's all-time scoring record in Los Angeles on Feb. 7. James got the record, but Williams got the walk-off interview as he thrived in that spotlight, scoring 25 points with seven rebounds and six steals in OKC's victory.

It was a showcase moment alongside Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 30 points, and Giddey, who had 20, for the Thunder's future.

"He's one of those guys that like every hurdle you put in front of him, he clears it," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said of Williams. "The way you help him improve is you give him those opportunities, and then you make sure they learn from it one way or the other."

First, though, the Thunder had to get Williams.