Mark Daigneault of the Thunder is named NBA Coach of the Year.

Mark Daigneault
Mark Daigneault

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Mark Daigneault

The NBA’s 2023–24 Coach of the Year is Mark Daigneault. Daigneault, who is just 39 years old, is the youngest coach to receive the honor since Doc Rivers, who led the Orlando Magic in their first 1999–00 season at the age of 38, was the youngest coach to do so. Now in his fourth season as the Thunder’s head coach, Daigneault’s rise to the top of the NBA has not been entirely traditional.

He started off as a student manager for the UConn Huskies and later used that role to get a position at Holy Cross as an assistant coach. After three seasons there, he received a master degree from Florida and served as Billy Donovan’s assistant. In 2014, he moved to Oklahoma City to join Donovan, but from 2014 to 2019, he led the G-League affiliate of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City Blue. In 2020, with Donovan gone, he was elevated to head coach of the Thunder after only one season as a full-time assistant.

Mark Daigneault

Under Jim Calhoun, Mark Daigneault managed the UConn Huskies as a student before he graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2003–07. Daigneault had planned to pursue a master’s degree after receiving his bachelor’s degree in teaching, but Calhoun and associate head coach George Blaney strongly encouraged Daigneault to seek an assistant coaching post at Holy Cross. The Crusaders placed second in the Patriot League Championship during Mark Daigneault’s coaching tenure.

Following three seasons at Holy Cross, Mark Daigneault attended in graduate school at the University of Florida, where he worked as an assistantship for the Florida Gators under Billy Donovan, the eventual head coach of the Thunder. Daigneault worked as the head coach’s assistant after earning a degree in sports management, which involved scouting and working with players off the court. The Gators finished with a 120–30 record under Mark Daigneault, including three SEC titles and an Elite Eight appearance every year. He was Donovan’s assistant while he was the USA Basketball coach.

After Darko Rajaković was promoted to the Thunder coaching staff, Mark Daigneault was appointed the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Blue on August 22, 2014. Billy Donovan, the head coach of Florida, who coached Daigneault for four seasons, said of the player that he “has been a valuable member of our staff.” The Blue equaled a record 28 wins in Mark Daigneault’s first season, their most since the 2010–11 campaign, which included a postseason run. After assistant coach Maurice Cheeks missed six weeks of the 2015–16 NBA season due to injury, Daigneault became a member of Billy Donovan’s coaching staff. Donovan was appointed as the Thunder’s head coach in the middle of the season.

After the Thunder’s postseason success, Mark Daigneault rejoined the Blue. Mark Daigneault guided the Blue to a franchise-high 34 victories in the 2016–17 campaign. He stayed with the Thunder for the rest of the season. Despite winning the Western Conference, the Blue were defeated in the conference finals. Following their participation in the conference finals, the Blue, who finished third in the Western Conference in the 2017–18 campaign, were unable to get beyond the first round. Mark Daigneault tied the club record with 34 victories in his last season, leading the Blue to its third straight division title. But the Blue’s last postseason trip ended in a loss in the conference semifinals.

Mark Daigneault finished his fifth and final season as the team’s longest-serving coach in club history. During his time there, Mark Daigneault was named the NBA G League Coach of the Month three times, guided the Blue to four postseason trips, and finished with the most victories of any coach in team history—143–107. Additionally, under Mark Daigneault’s leadership, eight players—Alex Caruso, Markel Brown, Semaj Christon, Daniel Hamilton, Josh Huestis, and Dakari Johnson—were called up to the NBA squad and four others signed two-way contracts.

Mark Daigneault

Daigneault rejoined head coach Billy Donovan when he was made an assistant coach by the Oklahoma City Thunder, after a short stint in the 2015–16 NBA season. Daigneault thus became the fourth head coach of the Oklahoma City Blue to be named an assistant in the NBA.

The Thunder and head coach Billy Donovan came to an amicable agreement to part ways following the 2019–20 season as the team entered a rebuilding phase. On November 11, 2020, the Thunder announced Mark Daigneault as the new head coach, making him the fourth head coach in Thunder history. Mark Daigneault’s hiring made him the second youngest head coach in the NBA at the time.

Being the Thunder’s head coach is a very unique privilege, according to Daigneault. “In the six years I’ve been in Oklahoma City, I’ve grown to have a strong sense of loyalty to the organization and concern for the really unique neighborhood I call home. My ideals and the organization have always been compatible from my first day here, and I look forward to supporting their continued upholding both on and off the court. I would want to express my gratitude to Sam, Mr. Bennett, and the whole team for the chance. I am also appreciative of all the coaches, staff, and players in particular who have supported me over my career.

— Mark Daigneault

Regarding Daigneault’s history with the Thunder, general manager Sam Presti expressed excitement during the team’s coaching search. Daigneault has a history of “connecting with players, teaching the game and making the kind of short- and longer-term adjustments that are crucial for a franchise that is transitioning out of playoff contention and toward a younger, developmental roster.”

In his first season, Daigneault ended with a 22–50 record, the first losing season since the 2008–09 season, when the Thunder were rebuilding. In his second season, Daigneault guided the youngest team in NBA history to eight comeback victories of 15 points or more. With a defensive rating of 108.6, the Thunder were likewise rated eighth before the All-Star Break. But the Thunder ended the season with a 24–58 record, marking their second losing campaign in a row since moving to Oklahoma City. As the Thunder progressed to a 40–42 record in the third season of their reconstruction, a 16-win improvement from the previous season, Daigneault established himself as one of the greatest NBA coaches.

The Thunder, who finished one game short of the 2023 NBA playoffs, advanced to the NBA play-in tournament as the tenth seed and beat the New Orleans Pelicans before succumbing to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Daigneault received a nomination for the NBA Coach of the Year Award after going above and above preseason projections and making a play-in appearance. With 48 votes for second place and 20 votes for third place, Mark Daigneault finally came in second in the voting. The Thunder announced that head coach Mark Daigneault has signed a multi-year contract extension before to the 2023–24 season.

Throughout his time with the Thunder, Daigneault has been characterized as “open-minded, innovative, and unconventional”. Daigneault guided the Thunder to numerous seasons placing in the top 10 on defense throughout the team’s development. Because to Daigneault’s in-game changes, the Thunder were among the strongest third quarter teams in the 2022–2023 season after halftime.

During the Thunder’s yearly leave interviews after the 2022–2023 season, a number of players gave thanks to Daigneault’s coaching and their connection with him. Josh Giddey, a second-year guard, said that Daigneault was the perfect coach, stating, “If I could build a coach, it’s Mark [Daigneault]” and characterizing him as a wise man. Acquired after the trade deadline, Dario Šarić said that “[Daigneault] is the right coach for these young players” and that “some coaches get where they stick to it, [Daigneault] is open minded.”

In addition, Daigneault has a reputation for focusing less on the largest minute lineups and using a lot of little minute lineups.

Regular seasonGGames coachedWGames wonLGames lostW–L %Win–loss %
PlayoffsPGPlayoff gamesPWPlayoff winsPLPlayoff lossesPW–L %Playoff win–loss %


Oklahoma City2020–21722250.3065th in NorthwestMissed playoffs
Oklahoma City2021–22822458.2935th in NorthwestMissed playoffs
Oklahoma City2022–23824042.4883rd in NorthwestMissed playoffs
Oklahoma City2023–24825725.6951st in NorthwestTBD

NBA G League

Oklahoma City2014–15502822.5604th in West202.000Lost in First Round
Oklahoma City2015–16501931.3808th in WestMissed playoffs
Oklahoma City2016–17503416.6801st in West633.500Lost in Conference Finals
Oklahoma City2017–18502822.5603rd in West101.000Lost in First Round
Oklahoma City2018–19503416.6803rd in West211.500Lost in Conference Semifinal
Career250143107.572 1147.364 
Mark Daigneault

Rick, Mark Daigneault’s father, played baseball for the Crusaders and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1980. Ashley Kerr, Daigneault’s spouse, works as an assistant coach for women’s gymnastics at the University of Oklahoma.

Connor, Daigneault’s nephew, is a basketball player at Brazos Christian School right now.

Daigneault played childhood basketball under longtime NBA assistant coach Mark Osowski, and after Osowski’s death, he assisted in running the camp. Daigneault attributes his chances of becoming an NBA coach to Osowski’s influence and experience working with him. Additionally, Daigneault was encouraged to enroll at the University of Connecticut by Steve Dubzinski, his old high school basketball coach. Dubzinski assisted Daigneault in gaining his first collegiate basketball experience while serving as the Huskies’ student manager.

Mark Daigneault
NBA Coach of the Year
2023-2024 NBA season
OKC Headcoach
Thunder Headcoach
Oklahoma Thunder headcoach

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