Coach of the Year – Mark Daigneault, Oklahoma City Thunder
Mark Daigneault has been a part of the Oklahoma City Thunder in some capacity since 2014, which means he has seen the team completely transform before his eyes in the last decade. Daigneault was promoted to head coach of the Thunder in 2020 and since then has been instrumental in developing the young talent that has come in and out of the building.
Oklahoma City surprised everyone last year when they made the Play-In Tournament in a stacked Western Conference with a roster where the average age was under 24 years old. This also comes on the heels of a 24-58 record the season before which landed them the number two overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Thunder selected Chet Holmgren, but the miraculous part about this team’s year-over-year turnaround is that Holmgren never saw the floor last year after suffering a season-ending injury in the summer.
Daigneault was in the running for Coach of the Year last season, however, Mike Brown’s work with the Sacramento Kings was undeniable. The Kings had the longest NBA postseason drought from 2006-2023 until Brown came along and vaulted the young Kings to the 3rd seed in the West. It was an astonishing coaching job and Brown deserved the award.
This upcoming season, the Thunder have the chance to take that next step even as they are still flush with young talent. Holmgren will be joining the team and the hype is real for this young man. On top of that, the Thunder are led by a top-5 player in the entire NBA right now with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Pair SGA with Holmgren, Josh Giddey, the Williams’, and Lu Dort and this roster has all the talent necessary to compete deep into the postseason.
Whether they do or not may come down to the head coach and I truly believe Daigneault will answer the call!