In 2018 Igor Kokoskov was the head coach of the Phoenix Suns. That hire, on May 2nd made Kokoskov the first head coach born and raised outside of North America in NBA history.
He’d be the coach of the Suns for just one NBA Draft. In ‘18, with Phoenix holding the top overall pick, the Suns selected Deandre Ayton out of the University of Arizona. They passed on Luka Doncic, and Kokoskov says that’s why he’s coaching in Turkey.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here with you today,” Kokoskov told SocractesDergi before a recent Fenerbahce game. Kokoskov was named the Fenerbahce coach on July 4th of this year.
“There is a frightening momentum of development,” Kokoskov said. “Last year he was one of the most talented players in the world but today he is among the few selected best basketball players in the world. It should not be forgotten that he is only 21 years old and he will be playing for 17-18 years with the prolongation of professional athletes’ careers.”
Ayton versus Doncic was the topic of much conversation in the weeks leading up to the ‘18 draft. That discussion only continued during their rookie seasons. Ayton averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds for a Suns team that won 19 games, the lowest total since the franchise’s inaugural season. Doncic averaged 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists and was named Rookie of the Year. His Mavericks won 33 games, nine win jump from the year prior.
Today both teams are in a much better spot than they were going into that draft.
“I believe that if (Doncic) stays healthy, there is no chance he won’t get a ring,’’ Kokoskov said. “I can’t see a force around that can stop it.’’