The OKC Thunder were littered throughout the NBA GM survey, showing that the franchise is trending in the right direction. It is hard to peg down a win projection for this Oklahoma City Thunder team fresh off a 16-win improvement a year ago and due to the among of young players on this roster. However, the secret is out on Thunder bench boss Mark Daigneault.
After the NBA Bubble, which threw off the timing of the NBA calendar, Billy Donovan and the Thunder mutually parted ways over a couple of Diet Cokes in Sam Presti’s office. Donovan was off to the Windy City to coach the Bulls, and Presti was left conducting countless coaching interviews.
After leaving no stone unturned and many different perceived twists (remember the hour-long Will Weaver era in OKC?), the Oklahoma City Thunder eventually settled on Mark Daigneault.
The rest of the NBA and fans let out a booming “Who?” This guy who is younger than NBA players is taking over one of the 30 franchises? After Presti plucked Mark Daigneault from Florida in an assistant role for the Gators, he became one of the youngest NBA G-League head coaches.
After a few seasons with the Blue, Mark Daigneault was moved to Billy Donovan’s staff to gain some NBA experience. Once his mentor skipped town, whom Daigneault was very close with, he filled the void Donovan left behind.
OKC Thunder bench boss Mark Daigneault has earned the respect of the NBA, and the secret is out.
The NBA world viewed Mark Daigneault at best as a puppet, at worst as a lame duck as the OKC Thunder embarked on what was perceived to be a lengthy rebuild. However, Daigneault quickly earned the respect of those willing to pay attention.
That NBA season started at the end of December, and by the middle of January, I tabbed Mark Daigneault as the best coach in Thunder history; it was clear. While climbing over PJ Carlesimo, Scott Brooks, and Billy Donovan is not an impressive list, it still was high praise.
With the rate Mark Daigneault consistently maxed out the talent on the Thunder roster, had them competing every night, and cooked up defensive schemes, he showed that once he was handed a roster with talent on it, he could get the job done.
The Thunder believed that the day they hired him, he was never a sitting duck or on a trial period; he was put in a position to grow with this team.
The latest NBA GM Survey revealed the complete 180 on Mark Daigneault. Fresh off a 16-win improvement and a runner-up in the Coach of the Year honor, Daigneault was voted one of the best motivational/managers of people in the NBA.
The praise did not stop there; Mark Daigneault also received votes as having some of the best defensive strategies in the NBA.
Getting this recognition from the NBA world is impressive, considering we typically reserve judgment on coaches, good or bad, until after their postseason run.