Jaylin Williams answered the phone.
The rookie center is off the bench from time to time as a stand-in for injured Alexei Poksevsky and Jeremiah Robinson Earl.
The second rounder hasn’t overwhelmed fans on the stat sheet, but he’s been able to fill a huge hole in the Thunder lineup while growing up.
On Thursday, Williams’ role changed. He was tabbed as a starter for the fourth time in his 12th NBA game.
he counted it.
Williams recorded a career-best game against one of the NBA’s greatest big men, Joel Embiid.
He scored 11 points, grabbed five rebounds, and shot 5-for-7 on the night.
Williams helped the Thunder to a shock win over Philadelphia.
On the Friday following their victory, OKC played in Chicago and continued their short road trip. The team rolled out a different starting lineup, not new to the Thunder team.
Mike Mascara replaced Williams in the lineup on Friday.
Williams not only didn’t start, he didn’t record minutes. Muscala played 24 minutes and had a slight attacking impact.
He scored 8 points and added 4 rebounds. A savvy veteran, he struggled to shoot the ball 3-for-10 from the field and 3 points from the range where he was 2-for-9. He was the only starter not to score in double figures.
Both have been used in more urgent roles this season, bringing very different skill sets to the table, so a sudden switch in minutes isn’t unexpected.
Muscala is listed as a center, but is an outside threat with his ability to shoot beyond the arc. Williams, on the other hand, makes his living in the paint and plays like his true NBA center.
Ever-changing minutes and rotations are part of OKC’s strategy this year. In some cases, it gives young players more time to develop at the highest level, letting opponents constantly strategize with different appearances.
The Thunder are capitalizing on that depth and will continue to do so as the season moves forward into the All-Star break.
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