Kenrich, Kenny Hustle, the Texas Shag, Belongs in OKC

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Pistons entered Monday night’s game on eight-game losing streaks. Entering the game, the Pistons were the worst team in the NBA with a (4-19) record. The Thunder entered the game with the second-worst record in the Western Conference (6-16) and the fourth-worst in the NBA.

Needless to say, both teams were desperate for a win, despite their tanking aspirations, because at this point, the question is, are the young players they’re trying to develop starting to get discouraged? These are the two youngest teams in the league.

As for the game, it was a simple tale of two halves. The Pistons appeared to be the hungrier team. They seemed like a team eager to snap a league-leading losing streak.

Unfortunately for the Pistons, though, you have to play 48 minutes of determined basketball to win most games, and that’s what haunted them. After trailing by as many as 18 points, OKC ramped up the energy on both ends of the court. They went on a 24-6 run through the final 5:00 and defeated Detroit 114-103.

It wouldn’t have happened without the aggressive nature of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley, Tre Mann, and Kenrich Williams.

Yes, SGA scored 30 points and dished out 13 assists (a career-high). Yes, Dort scored 28 points and 11 to close the game out. Darius Bazely undoubtedly gave the defense a spark in the fourth quarter with two big blocks and exemplary on-ball defense. But the X-factor was the 27-year old Waco, TX native with a Texas Shag haircut, Kenrich Williams, who was a constant nuisance on the defensive end of the floor and scored timely buckets for the Thunder when the team needed it the most.

Williams scored seven of his 12 points on 3-of-3 shooting in the fourth quarter, with every bucket being from around the basket. Despite that, Williams makes his most significant impact in the energy department, which is why he’s nick-named Kenny Hustle.

Despite his career statistics being less than impressive, Kenny Hustle is the exact guy that every contender wants on their team, and OKC undoubtedly needs him long-term. He’s 27, older than 75 percent of the team, but he’s still young enough to be a quintessential part of OKC’s rebuilding process. He’s someone I consider nearly immovable. Why? Because every successful NBA team needs a Kenny Hustle.

The Golden State Warriors have Draymond Green. The Lakers had Alex Caruso for the 2020 NBA Title run and Devean George, who did the dirty work during the Lakers 3-peat era. Last season, the Milwaukee Bucks had Bobby Portis to fill that void.

Kenrich Williams could be that guy for OKC in the future, and hopefully, Thunder GM Sam Presti notices that as well.

Williams already mentioned enjoying playing in OKC because it “reminds him of a bigger Waco” and stated that he’s “close enough to home to visit, but far enough to be away.” Williams enjoys fishing and doing relaxing outdoor activities. He lives by Lake Hefner and loves it here. He loves the small-town vibe OKC provides, and outside of Dort, he’s the only guy on the Thunder with that aggressive mentality that signals to other teams that, “you better not f**k with us,” which is a personality that every elite team needs.

Williams averages 6.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals, and 0.3 blocks per game in 20 minutes. He shoots a solid 53.3 percent from the field and warrants a defender when shooting from three, at 34.7 percent. More importantly, if there’s a loose ball when Williams is in the game, he’s typically the one chasing it down, diving on the ground to save a possession or steal a possession away from the opposing team. When a random big shot needs to be made, Williams is there. When an opposing team is talking noise to one of his teammates, he’s usually in the mix.

Williams is a perfect trade piece, and there likely are contenders that will be eyeing him during the trade deadlines either now or in the future. As intriguing as that may be for Sam Presti, the Thunder need to keep the shag in OKC.

About the author

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

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