July 23, 2024
On Monday night, Oklahoma City’s head coach made a notable adjustment to his team’s rotation that ended up paying off down the stretch.

After two consecutive losses to the Dallas Mavericks, the Oklahoma City Thunder had its back against the wall in Game 4.

Needing a win to avoid going down 3-1, OKC head coach Mark Daigneault elected to make a change to his lineup, bringing in veteran Kenrich Williams off the bench instead of trade deadline acquisition Gordon Hayward.

Williams played over eight minutes in Game 4, his first time seeing the floor in meaningful action since Game 1 against the New Orleans Pelicans. Williams played around eight and a half minutes in the Thunder’s 94-92 victory over CJ McCollum and company, but only entered games during garbage time since the team’s postseason debut.

Hayward has been a mainstay in Oklahoma City’s rotation since the former Hornet’s wing was traded to the team in February. While he never earned huge minutes on the court, Hayward regularly checked in with the second unit throughout his time in the Modern Frontier.

This continued in the playoffs, as Hayward logged minutes in every postseason game up until Game 4 against Dallas, when Daigneault decided to play Williams instead. While Hayward has been a decent defender for OKC, the veteran wing rarely shoots the ball, taking just three field goal attempts in seven playoff games this year.

While Williams was just 0-for-1 during his time on the floor on Monday night, the TCU product was solid on defense and plays with great physicality. In a series against the Mavericks, a team who has the personnel to play physically, having a tough option off the bench seemed to work for the Thunder in Game 4.Costly Turnovers Crippled Oklahoma Against Kansas - Sports Illustrated Oklahoma  Sooners News, Analysis and More

Additionally, Williams will have no problem taking shots if left open and is able to knock down uncontested 3-pointers. With good size and strength, the Waco, TX, product also has the versatility to play on the wing or down low in smaller lineups.

It would not be surprising to see Daigneault go back to Williams over Hayward in Game 5, especially after the spark he seemed to provide in Game 4. The sixth-year veteran likely won’t play for more than 10 minutes even if he is the coaching staff’s choice off the bench, but will be able to make a positive impact in a variety of ways while he is on the court.

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