NBA Hoops

Mark Daigneault explains why he lets players play through foul trouble

Mark Daigneault explains why he lets players play through foul trouble

Separated by a screen, Lu Dort quickly caught up to Luka Doncic, who tricked the defensive stopper into bumping into him and drew the shooting foul.

Less than three minutes into Game 4, Dort picked up a costly second foul. Conventional wisdom would suggest the 25-year-old would get subbed out.

Traditionally speaking, the risk of Dort picking up additional fouls in the first half doesnโ€™t outweigh the benefits. A nightmare scenario for the Thunder was on the horizon. Being without their best point-of-attack defender down the stretch of a close fourth quarter against Doncic couldโ€™ve been detrimental.

But Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault has always been a very calculating coach, absorbing data and figuring out the best course of action depending on potential outcomes.

Instead of removing Dort early in the seasonโ€™s biggest game, Daigneault stuck to his philosophy of playing players through foul trouble.

The calculated risk paid off tremendously.

Dort flirted with fouling out but ultimately logged 40 minutes. He was part of the Thunderโ€™s closing lineup in their 14-point comeback win over the Mavericks in Game 4 to even the series at 2.

Dortโ€™s been superb in the playoffs. He continues to add to his mythos of being a postseason riser. After limiting Brandon Ingram to 14.3 points on 34.5% shooting in a first-round sweep, heโ€™s held Doncic to a pedestrian 22 points on 39% shooting through four games of the second round.

The multiple time All-Star had his worst outing yet in Game 4. Doncic finished with 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He shot 2-of-9 from 3 and committed seven turnovers.

A large reason for the lackluster performance by Dallasโ€™ superstar was Daigneaultโ€™s decision to trust Dortโ€™s discipline. He remained in the game and sat only eight minutes.

The Coach of the Year winner is a heavy leaner on analytics. His innovative mindset has helped him become one of the best head coaches in the league.

When it comes to handling players with foul trouble, his approach toward is another example of a long list where Daigneault is ahead of the curve.

โ€œItโ€™s something our data science guide โ€” one of our guys pointed it out to me โ€” as something to think about,โ€ Daigneault said on his philosophy towards players with foul trouble. โ€œThe more I thought about it, the more I thought it had some legs.โ€

Daigneault quickly realized that the fear of a player fouling out is blown out of proportion. The 39-year-old will…

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