Mark Daigneault details coaching philosophy, benefits of transparency

The Oklahoma City Thunder have ascended into one of the best teams in the league despite their youth. Mark Daigneault’s coaching style has played a large part in that.

Beyond being a masterful technician, Daigneault has mastered the art of relationship building. This is arguably as important as the X’s and O’s of the game.

In his four seasons under the helm, the 39-year-old has grown with OKC’s core as a head coach. He went from a relative unknown when he was hired to the Coach of the Year winner this year.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander fondly spoke of his relationship with Daigneault recently, stating they’ve been tied to the hip at the start of their tenures with the Thunder.

“I’ve never really had a relationship with a coach on this professional level like I have with him,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “It just makes it easy to play. I think I can say that for the guys across the whole team.

“He’s so easy to play for because he’s humble, he doesn’t love taking credit, he doesn’t take care about himself, he’s selfless. When he messes up he owns it. Because he’s that way, he can get on us.”

Daigneault’s transparency and open communication channels are some of the strongest features of the culture he’s helped build. Jalen Williams talked about how much he appreciated his ability to hold each other accountable and stay on the same page.

“We have a lot of straight shooters on our team so it helps when your coach is not beating around the bush,” Williams said. “… I think when you’re trying to avoid confrontation on things that can help guys get better, it slows down progress.”

When asked about his coaching philosophy, Daigneault said it stems from his days as the G League’s OKC Blue head coach from 2014 to 2019. He said he used to ask players what they wanted from a coach and most had the same answer.

“When I was a G League coach, I used to ask players — I met a lot of players — I haven’t asked this in a long time, but what’s the secret to coaching you? That’s a question I’d ask a player,” Daigneault said.

“Most of the players — I would say 80% of the answers — had something to do with honesty… I’ve learned when you hear the same answer over and over again from a lot of different players, a lot of different backgrounds, a lot of different people, there’s something to that.

“There’s nothing harder than lying. You got to lie 100 times to cover for your first lie. I just try to be very transparent with the team. Especially if we’re stuck on something. If we’re stuck on something, I’ll come in and tell them, ‘Hey we’re stuck on this. We got to come in and figure this out’ rather than coming in here to dress it up.”

Daigneault’s coaching style in all facets has loudly resonated with his squad. It’s led to him quickly rising in the ranks of head coaches around the league.

Being an NBA head coach is as much about being a personality manager as it is about being a basketball genius. It’s evident Daigneault has dominated in both areas.

Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire