Windhorst pod: Mark Daigneault ‘deserves legitimate Coach of the Year attention’

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Logan Newman
·2 min read
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In a recent episode of “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” podcast, the panelists brought up an interesting point about the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls.

At the time, OKC had a 20-27 record. The Bulls were 19-27. Yet Chicago had just traded multiple first-round picks to go all-in for a playoff chase, while Oklahoma City was shutting down Al Horford. The Thunder organization was trying to follow its plan to tank, but their on-court performance was making it hard.

“Mark Daigneault, the coach of the Thunder, I think deserves legitimate Coach of the Year attention,” said analyst Tim Bontemps. “They’re winning games, to (Tim) MacMahon’s point, with lineups that should not be winning games.”

The Thunder were projected to finish the season with 15 wins. They’re already at 20. Players who other teams either didn’t want or didn’t consider important parts of their future were traded to the Thunder, including Horford, Kenrich Williams and Ty Jerome. All of three have been solid contributors or better for OKC.

Young players have stepped up. Moses Brown, who played nine games for the Portland Trail Blazers last season before joining on a two-way contract, has broken out in his second year. Isaiah Roby is impressing with a variety of skills. Theo Maledon and Aleksej Pokusevski have grown as rookies.

When the starting lineup was in, the Thunder failed to lose consistently enough to ensure itself a top pick. Even with a losing record, some think this has earned Daigneault Coach of the Year buzz. Or maybe, he’s actually doing a terrible job?

“No, their coach should be fired. He is completely failing to execute the obvious strategy of the franchise,” MacMahon joked.

The group on the podcast laughed at this. Horford has been benched. Shi Gilgeous-Alexander is out until at least mid-April. Darius Bazley’s shoulder contusion has prevented him from returning in a timely fashion. If the Thunder continue to win without them, what other avenues can the organization use to tank?

“They’re going to bench their coach,” MacMahon laughed.

“Mark Daigneault is going to leave, he has personal (problems), he may not return,” Windhorst added, jokingly.

Daigneault is not going to win the 2021 Coach of the Year award while the Thunder have a losing record. It’s likely going to be Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, unless Monty Williams can elevate the Phoenix Suns over the Jazz to the top of the Western Conference standings.

But Daigneault has been coaching so well, some national analysts are starting to say he deserves to at least be mentioned when talking about the best coaches of the 2020-21 season.

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