Oklahoma City Thunder: Thunder's D-League program acting as a career springboard for players, coaches and support staff

More than any other NBA franchise, the Thunder has steadily utilized its D-League program the past six years. And it’s produced a ton of success stories.
by Anthony Slater Published: August 24, 2014

Reggie Jackson went down, dropped a few near triple-doubles, then returned to the Thunder an improved player, ready to contribute to a postseason run.

Jeremy Lamb’s stay in Tulsa was longer – extended and successful enough that he made the D-League All-Star team his rookie year. Now he’s a candidate to be OKC’s starting shooting guard.

Shaun Livingston’s stop was his first after a devastating knee injury. The 66ers medical staff played a key early role in his career rejuvenation, which recently resulted in a three-year, $16 million payday with the Warriors.

More than any other NBA franchise, the Thunder has steadily utilized its D-League program the past six years. And it’s produced a ton of success stories.

But that hasn’t just been limited to the players who have made brief stops. It extends to the sidelines, where a handful of the coaches and support staff have used Thunder U as a career springboard.

On Friday afternoon, the Thunder announced the hiring of Florida assistant Mark Daigneault as the next head coach of its D-League team, which relocated from Tulsa to OKC this offseason and has yet to determine its name.

Daigneault is considered an up-and-comer in the profession. He’s a 29-year-old who is already a coaching veteran, having worked as a team manager for UConn during his college days, before assistant stops at Holy Cross and, most recently, Florida. He has also been part of the USA Basketball program, working side-by-side with Billy Donovan.

“Mark is somebody who is widely respected at the collegiate level for his energy, his focus, his intellect, his approach to player development and team-building,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said.

Most signs would indicate Daigneault might not be long for this position. He’s a rapid riser. And that’s just how the Thunder likes it.

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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