The OKC Thunder were able to take care of business against the Golden State Warriors. While it is still mid-November, the Western Conference is shaping up to be a dogfight all season long. The difference in making the top six, the play-in, or missing the postseason entirely will be decided by just a few games.
On Thursday, the OKC Thunder faced as close to a must-win game as you can before Thanksgiving. The fully healthy Bricktown boys flew west to take on the depleted Golden State Warriors.
Steph Curry was sidelined with a knee injury, while Draymond Green is serving a five-game ban for electing to put Rudy Gobert in a chokehold that would be deemed too rough for the scripted WWE.
The OKC Thunder were able to take care of business against the Warriors, and Mark Daigneault found his rotation.
As the Oklahoma City Thunder blew out the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, Mark Daigneault stumbled upon what should be his go-to rotation.
Of course, this OKC Thunder rebuild has been highlighted by the phrase “roster exploration,” which is not going away anytime soon. However, when you face a stretch like this where you are starring down the barrel of stealing two road games against the Warriors and beating down the lowly Blazers and Bulls before entering a brutal portion of the schedule, Lewis and Clark must take a back seat.
The Oklahoma City Thunder used their traditional starting five of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, Jalen Williams, and Chet Holmgren. Beyond the first five, Mark Daigneault elected to tighten up the rotation.
Rookie Cason Wallace and sharpshooter Isaiah Joe earned 25 minutes each. In comparison, two-time EuroLeague MVP Vasilije Micic grabbed 21 minutes, ultimate glue guy Kenrich Williams chipped in 17 minutes, and Aaron Wiggins checked in for 11 minutes.
Besides that list, only Jaylin Williams (3 minutes) earned playing time in this blowout win for the OKC Thunder. This should be the key group for the OKC Thunder in matchups like this one. Sure, tweaks can be made depending on game flow or if you need to prioritize offense or defense, but the players listed should remain pretty constant when healthy.
I would anticipate most nights to see Kenrich Williams leapfrog Micic in minutes, and sometimes Aaron Wiggins is on an absolute heater, not to mention Jaylin Williams’s potential as a high-end bench player as he works back from his hamstring injury, but this rotation is most conducive to winning.
The OKC Thunder got off to a slow start, down six points in the blink of an eye, before swelling their lead to 19 points. After gaining that big lead, the Warriors swarmed back to cut the lead to one. At that point, the OKC Thunder kicked it back in gear and built up a 21-point lead to never look back.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a poor game by his standards, but the OKC Thunder were able to blow out the Golden State Warriors who still boast a couple future Hall of Famers on the court and one on the sidelines.
The blend of versatile talent, a mix of offense and defense, and high IQ players makes Mark Daigneault’s life easier. OKC is able to survive a few storms despite being the second youngest roster. Shrinking the rotation goes a long way in having a successful season.
Clearly, this is a luxury you can not afford each game as the schedule grows and bumps and bruises present themselves, but more often than not the Thunder are talented enough to take care of business in these settings by just whittling down their rotation.