NBA gets first Vietnamese-origin players

June 26, 2022 - 10:23


Jaylin Williams becomes the first player of Vietnamese descent to play in the NBA. — Photo 

HCM CITY — The National Basketball Association (NBA)'s Oklahoma Thunder selected Jaylin Williams, a 2.08-metre power forward from the University of Arkansas in the fourth pick of the second round of the draft on Friday (June 24). 

The 19-year-old is the first player of Vietnamese descent to play in the NBA.

With the young team Oklahoma have, analysts expect Williams to get a lot of playing time next season. 

He held back tears as he watched the draft with fans, family and friends at his high school gym in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

“This is just the beginning,” he said.

His coach at the University of Arkansas, Eric Musselman, congratulated his former star player.

“He’s going to be a great fit with the Thunder. He is a player that should be able to come in right away and contribute due to his high basketball I.Q, his ability to rebound and his play on dribble-handoffs." 

"Our staff is extremely happy for Jaylin and his family. ” 

Williams has played for a number of representative teams, averaging 10.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game and managed 23.9 per cent accuracy from the three-point line.

Johnny Juzang, another player of Vietnamese descent, has signed a two-way contract with Utah Jazz and will play in the G-League for Salt Lake City Stars besides having a big chance to get game time in the NBA League. 

He impressed as a sophomore when he led UCLA on a run to the final four in 2021. He was the darling of the men's NCAA tournament that season but opted to stay in school for another year to develop his game.

He averaged 15.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists for the Bruins while shooting 43.2 percent from the field and 36.0 per cent from beyond the arc last season.

As a three-year college player, he has the maturity to be an immediate contributor for the Jazz if he can find a way to make the main roster. — VNS