Before the Oklahoma City Thunder rattled off four wins in a row, forward/center Joffrey Lauvergne and shooting guard Anthony Morrow both saw limited action through the first month of the season.
But during the team's current four-game winning streak, Lauvergne and Morrow have proven to head coach Billy Donovan they deserve more minutes and a bigger role coming off the bench.
After starting the season 6-1, the Thunder went through a skid of losing seven of its next nine games, which put them back to .500 at 8-8. Coach Donovan was not getting production from the players he was using off the bench, so he decided to switch up his bench unit and play Lauvergne and Morrow to see what they could bring to the floor.
Lauvergne, who was brought in this offseason in a trade with the Denver Nuggets, has arguably been one of the best three-point shooters for the Thunder this season -- which is astonishing considering he is a forward/center. According to basketball-reference.com, Lauvergne is knocking down 41.7 percent of his three-point shots, just six percentage points below his field goal percentage -- which is at 47.7 percent for the season.
Because of Lauvergne's ability to shoot behind the arc, he can space the floor for point guard Russell Westbrook. When coach Donovan puts Lauvergne on the floor at the same time with Westbrook, Westbrook can drive to the crowded lane and kick it out to Lauvergne at the top of the key or in the corner, two spots where Lauvergne connects most of this three-point shots.
The Thunder, a team that does not shoot the ball well from three-point land, has finally found a big man off the bench in Lauvergne who can score both from three-point range and down low in the post.
During the team's four-game winning streak, Lauvergne is averaging 8.0 PPG in 15 minutes per contest, and is shooting 44 percent from three-point range, according to basketball-reference.com.
But besides Lauvergne, Morrow is another player who has stepped up recently and has provided offensive production off the bench.
Before Morrow began to see an increase in his minutes, coach Donovan began the year using guard Alex Abrines and forward Kyle Singler off the bench. Both players have the ability to shoot the ball well, but struggled mightily during the Thunder's losing streak.
So after seeing the inconsistency between Abrines and Singler, Donovan went to veteran leader Anthony Morrow to see if he could provide a boost to the team.
At the beginning of the team's current winning streak, Morrow shot 4-of-8 from the field, 2-of-2 from three-point range, and finished the game with 10 points. Morrow followed up his solid performance by having his best game of the year against the Detroit Pistons, when he shot 8-of-12 from the field, 3-of-6 from three-point range, and scored 21 points.
In Morrow's last four games, he is averaging 12.8 PPG, 24.8 minutes per game, and shooting 50 percent from three-point range, according to basketball-reference.com.
Even though Russell Westbrook has made all the headlines with his four consecutive triple-doubles, if it weren't for Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow the Thunder would not be riding a four-game winning streak.