Thunder signs Mike Muscala – how he Impacts the OKC Thunder’s Backup Center Rotation

The backup big spot has been an area of concern this season, but the Thunder are hoping their recent moves will fix any problems.

Size has been a concern for the Oklahoma City Thunder all season, but as the playoffs near, they have options.

Chet Holmgren has been better than expected in his rookie year, averaging 17.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. In helping the Thunder turn from a play-in team into a contender, Holmgren’s 7-foot frame has revolutionized the team on both ends.

The main problem is he can’t play 48 minutes every night. After a couple of free agent signings, Oklahoma City’s concerns about those minutes with Holmgren on the bench have decreased.

Coming into the season, the Thunder’s big men had a combined 80 games of NBA action, all coming from Jaylin Williams and two-way center Olivier Sarr. After the signings of Bismack Biyombo and Mike Muscala, the Thunder’s big rotation has played more than 1,500 games.

But that experience also means the new additions do not match the youthfulness of the roster. At this point in their careers, neither player is as athletic as the young bigs nor has the skillset Sam Presti has looked for in building the team.

Those factors likely lead to Williams being the de facto backup center. In 50 games this season, Williams has played well off the bench and has been a solid piece for the Thunder’s defense with his 240-pound build.

But with Williams taking a step back in his 3-point shooting, Muscala could be the best option as a floor spacer. In his just over three seasons with the Thunder, Muscala shot 39.2% from beyond the arc.

Considering Muscala’s chemistry with most of the core and his ability to match up well with opposing centers, he will likely have the longest leash of the backup bigs in the postseason.

Finally, Biyombo will probably only get to play in specific situations. Playing limited minutes in his only two appearances with Oklahoma City, Biyombo has looked fine but is not a viable option to play long stretches.

Although none of those players are expected to make a significant impact, they give the Thunder various options they did not have when the season started.


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