Grading the OKC Thunder bench:
Jaylin Williams, F, OKC Thunder: A
The Thunder’s backup big was a significant factor in the win as he spent time on Nikola Jokic. Williams’ 240-pound build proved to be a valuable weapon for the Thunder to deploy.
Williams started the second half in place of Josh Giddey and helped the team play the Nuggets even through that third quarter. Before that, his scoring punch was helpful in the first half.
His 11 points, including three makes from beyond the arc, helped Oklahoma City’s deficit never grow past 11.
Isaiah Joe, G, OKC Thunder: B+
Joe made only one 3-pointer, but it was a massive hit. Jalen Williams broke up a lob, leading to Joe’s transition three that cut the deficit to five.
Joe had another shot a few possessions later, bringing Denver’s lead back down to five.
The Nuggets were looking to pull away early in the fourth quarter, but plays like Joe’s gave the Thunder a chance to make their last push. He also drew an offensive foul on Jokic that triggered the Nuggets to lose their only challenge.
Cason Wallace, G, OKC Thunder: C
While Wallace will almost certainly grow into a consistent contributor, he has become a perfect player to sop up minutes early in his career. He simply does the right things on the floor defensively and has proven himself to be a reliable shooter from the outside.
He scored only two points, but those came on a layup near the end of the third quarter to tie the game.
Kenrich Williams, F, OKC Thunder: C+
This feels like the closest Williams has come to losing his spot in the rotation since he arrived in Oklahoma City, but his impact is enough to get him minutes every night. In the midst of the Thunder’s second-quarter collapse, Williams made some big plays on the defensive glass to finish off those stops.
He also did some work on the offensive glass, grabbing three of his five total on that end.
Aaron Wiggins, G, OKC Thunder: B-
Wiggins was just at the right place at the right time, as he often is. He tapped back an offensive rebound for his second of two buckets.
That fourth-quarter score was another example of his ability to fly around and make things happen. He played just 12 minutes but continued to make a positive impact.
Ousmane Dieng, F, OKC Thunder: C-
Dieng played only five minutes in the first half, making a couple of free throws and grabbing a rebound. While he was fine in his stint, the matchup against the defending champs was not one where he was going to find much success.