The Oklahoma City Thunder wrapped up their season against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second game of the NBA Play-In tournament. They held their annual exit interviews the next day. The OKC Thunder bench boss, Mark Daigneault, was not in attendance for his interview but for a great reason. He and his wife, Ashley, welcomed a baby girl into the world—the couple’s second child.
The OKC Thunder put together a surprising 40-win season, ending in an NBA Play-In Tournament berth a game away from the NBA Playoffs. NBA pundits pegged this Thunder squad for 20 wins this season, especially after they lost their 2nd overall pick (Chet Holmgren) for the entire season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder capped off an impressive season with high-praise to bench boss Mark Daigneault, who finished second in Coach of the Year voting.
Throughout the season, the OKC Thunder came out better prepared and ready to play night in and night out with view exceptions throughout the 82-game marathon. Aaron Wiggins told a great story about the message Daigneault gave them ahead of playing LeBron James the night he broke the scoring record.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went on and on about the impact of Mark Daigneault, saying he didn’t “learn anything” about the bench boss this year, “I knew what type of coach he was his first year here. He has a core belief system, and I 100% agree with it…him instilling those things in us when we were a 22-win team til now has made it easier for us to grow.”
Josh Giddey added, “If I could build a coach, it would be Mark [Daigneault],” so I asked Giddey, as the head man gets praised for his excellent after-time-out players (ATO), what does it mean to him to be the trigger man as the inbound passer for these plays?
Giddey praised Mark Daigneault for putting them in the correct position and making his life easy. Perhaps the most glowing appraisal of Daigneault was Kenrich Williams “Coach Mark has always been pretty much the same, the same mentality every day. He shows up; he pushes us to another level. Him being able to hold everybody on the roster accountable 1-16, even Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander], that’s his biggest value he brings.”
The ability to command respect and accountability from everyone on the roster, while having the x’s and o’s prestige of Mark Daigneault is an elite balancing act. From his junk zone defenses, heavy cut-based offense, and his handling of timeouts to control the tempo, the Thunder have a legit leader on the sidelines.
Mark Daigneault finished second in Coach of the Year voting behind Sacramento Kings’ bench boss Mike Brown. Daigneault did not earn a single first-place vote but did receive 48 second-place votes to put him in second place for this award.