Warriors' Alfonzo McKinnie stands out on late notice in first NBA start


Just about 40 minutes before the Warriors tipped off at Oracle Arena against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, Golden State was forced to change its plans.

Klay Thompson was sick, and would be forced to miss the Warriors' 113-104 loss. So, who did coach Steve Kerr turn to in filling the vacant spot in the starting lineup?

A guy who had never started an NBA game before, that's who.

Alfonzo McKinnie was caught off guard just like everyone else.

"To be honest, like right before the game, coach [Jarron] Collins came in and he just said, 'You're starting out on Wilson Chandler,' and that was that," Mckinnie said with a laugh.

"And I was just looking, like, 'Wait, huh?' Like, I didn't really know what he was saying."

Despite the late notice, McKinnie was ready when called upon.

When he checked out of the game for the first time with 4:15 remaining in the first quarter and Golden State leading 25-17, McKinnie had accounted for eight points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the field.

At halftime, he led all players with a plus-14 rating. At the end of the night, he still hadn't missed a field goal, finishing with 11 points -- on five shots -- and four rebounds in 27 minutes of action.

"Alfonzo was great," Kerr said. "He did a really nice job. Came in, did his job, competed, defended hard, took the shots that were there. Did a really nice job."

McKinnie had appeared in 55 career NBA games prior to Thursday night, but never once had he been on the court for the opening tip. You don't make it to the NBA without starting your fair share of games along the way, but the significance of the moment was not lost on McKinnie.

"It was pretty cool to start, I ain't even going to lie," McKinnie said after the loss. "Bittersweet moment, you know, getting my first start, but then not being able to secure the win."

He might not remember the result fondly, but it's still a moment McKinnie will never forget.

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