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Kokoskov on Suns taking Ayton over Doncic: ‘I’m sleeping peacefully’

Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov directs his team against the Denver Nuggets in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic has risen as one of the league’s biggest stars with a vicious step-back three-point shot and the ability to set up his teammates for the best shots possible. He is third in the NBA in scoring, third in efficiency rating and second in assists.

Doncic stands in second-place on NBA.com’s MVP Ladder, only behind the defending winner Giannis Antetokounmpo. He won the Western Conference Player of the Month award for November.

Meanwhile, Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, the 2018 top draft pick who was selected two spots ahead of Doncic, has still played in just one game this season due to an illegal substance suspension.

The jury is still out on what Ayton will become, but it seems unlikely that he will be seen on Doncic’s level down the road.

Former Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov discussed Donic and the decision to draft Ayton in a Eurohoops.net article.

“All I’ll say is that I’m sleeping peacefully and carefree,” Kokoskov said, according to a translation of the Croatian site Index about the Suns’ decision.

He could not say more for professional reasons on the matter, but he did go on about Doncic’s “mesmerizing” play.

Kokoskov coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team and is clearly very fond of him.

“Until yesterday, we talked about Luka as an up-and-coming player, today we talk about him as one of the NBA’s best players,” Kokoskov said. “The basketball he plays at the age of 20 puts him in the position of one of the most dominant players of today, and the speed at which all this has taken place is especially fascinating.”

Kokoskov’s hiring brought a lot of speculation that the Suns would select the former Euro League MVP. But it was not to be.

The Suns fired Kokoskov after going 19-63 last season. Kokoskov is now a part of the coaching staff of the Sacramento Kings, helmed by head coach Luke Walton.

He was asked why things did not work out in the Valley.

“We had a lot of young players, and we didn’t have a real playmaker,” Kokoskov said. “Today, it is impossible to play modern basketball without a top playmaker.

“Quite simply, at that moment we were not ready for a better result, and despite everything, when I look back at that period, I have no bad memories. Life is like that, sport is like that, let’s move on.”


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