OKC Thunder players share first impressions of new head coach Mark Daigneault
Mark Daigneault was set to make his NBA head coaching debut Wednesday night in Houston against Stephen Silas, another first-year coach, before COVID-19 issues forced the game to be postponed.
Daigneault was named the Thunder’s new head coach on Nov. 11. He spent last season as an assistant under Billy Donovan, and Daigneault was head coach of the G League Oklahoma City Blue for five seasons before that.
The 35-year-old from Leominster, Massachusetts, is the fourth head coach in Thunder history, following P.J. Carlesimo, Scott Brooks and Donovan.
Thunder players shared their first impressions of Daigneault throughout training camp:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: “He’s willing to do whatever it is to have a good relationship with his players, make sure his players are comfortable. And coaches like that ultimately you want to play for, you want to play harder for and you really feel like they’re part of the group. It’s not coaches coaching players. You guys feel like one big family, and that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed with him.”
Al Horford: “Really harping on the little things, attention to detail and trying to execute the best way that we can. Those are things that I’ve seen him harp on very early. Our team, we’re trying to be very disciplined. We have a younger team, but guys are trying to do the right thing, be in the right places, and that’s something that I’ve seen him take the lead on. He’s doing a really good job of that.”
George Hill: “The biggest thing I can say is he’s holding everyone accountable — from the front office all the way down to the players. When you’ve got a coach that’s doing that it’s very good, where no one is treated different … He’s having fun with it. His first year being a head coach, it’s new for him and it’s new for us as a young team.”
Hamidou Diallo: “Mark is just a great person. Just speaking to him during my first and second years, I mean he just knows so much about the game. And he's just a positive guy. He always picked me up when I was down. Every time I faced adversity he was always by my side whether it was sending me texts, or whether it was just keeping me focused and keeping me level headed.”
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Ty Jerome: “To be honest he reminds me a lot of Coach (Tony) Bennett from UVA. Just a personable person, humble, a good guy, takes interest in the players it seems like. But competitive, super competitive, too. He has that mix of super humble and super passionate.”
Aleksej Pokusevski: “He’s a great guy, a great person. He’s always for you there after practice if you need anything. It doesn’t have to be about basketball.”
Moses Brown: “He reminds me a lot of my coach in the G League. He’s really a players’ coach. He really wants to talk to me and get to know who I am as a person and not only as a player. Just kind of goes out of his way to help me understand what’s going on on the court … For him to give us so much individualized attention is definitely a good thing being on this level.”
Justin Jackson: “Ah man, I love Coach Mark. He’s one of those guys that he’s gonna let you know if you need to do something better, but he’s also gonna encourage you if you’re doing something right.”
Kenrich Williams: “He’s a great leader for our team. Very smart coach. I noticed that the first couple days. Knows the game well. And he cares about the guys.”
Mike Muscala: “I think he’s gonna be a great head coach. It was a pleasure working with him last year throughout the year. I’m super excited for him, for the organization, for the city and the fans. They’re gonna really like what Mark brings.”