Coach Kokoškov Preaches Details, Fundamentals in First Training Camp

by Cody Cunningham

The Suns had eight new bodies suit up for them during training camp this year as first-year Head Coach Igor Kokoškov began laying the foundation for the revamped roster.

Kokoškov has built an impressive basketball resume over the years, but it hasn’t always been an easy path for 46-year-old coach. From breaking barriers to overcoming the odds, Kokoškov has opened the doors for many on his way to becoming the 19th coach in franchise history.

A car accident in his early 20’s forced an end to his basketball career, but Kokoškov wasn’t willing to abandon the hardwood completely as he became the youngest coach in Yugoslavian basketball history. From there he was named the first non-American full-time assistant in the NBA, the first non-American assistant to win a championship and this summer he became the first NBA head coach born and raised outside of North America.

“We are thrilled to bring Valley resident Igor Kokoškov back to Arizona as head coach of the Phoenix Suns,” General Manager Ryan McDonough said. “Igor has been a pioneer throughout his basketball career and he brings a wealth of high level coaching experience to our club.”

The players have been quite impressed with what Kokoškov has had to offer thus far.

“Coach Igor’s a very smart coach,” Deandre Ayton said. “He’s all about fundamentals and really taking your time in the post, taking care of your body and really all about conditioning as well and studying the game.”

Kokoškov’s player development skills have been on display throughout the league with players such as Goran Dragic, Donovan Mitchell and Luka Dončić. He will now get a chance to work with one of the youngest core’s in the NBA and prove what he can do while leading the pack.

“He’s a player’s coach,” Troy Daniels said. “He wants to know how you’re feeling, what you think about this type of play or what do you think about this defensive scheme. That’s what you want in a coach, especially a young team like the Suns.”

Even though Devin Booker has not been able to participate fully in practice due to his hand injury, he said just speaking to Kokoškov has made him excited for this season and the future of this team.

“We’ve done a lot of talking outside of basketball, but obviously the subject gets on basketball a lot because we both love the sport,” Booker said. “Very high IQ guy that has a lot of good stuff for our team this year… I’m very excited about it.”

Dragan Bender noticed from the start that Kokoškov was different from any coach he has had in the past and sees his system and style of basketball fitting great with the Suns personnel.

“He has a great vibe about himself,” Bender said. “He’s great for young guys obviously, but just being able to listen to him every day, you can see how much he knows, how much he wants you to succeed.”

Kokoškov has been a vocal leader throughout training camp and has continued to preach details and fundamentals to his team.

“He’s a guy who pays attention to detail, really small detail,” Josh Jackson said. “Teaching us a lot, explains everything and he really does a good job putting all the guys in positions where they can be successful.”

With just a few days until the Suns first preseason game, Kokoškov said it was a ‘very good’ week for the team up in Flagstaff at Northern Arizona University. 

“Overall as a staff we can be pleased with effort, with professionalism, with the presence on the court, off the court,” Kokoškov. “We basically did what we came here for.”

The Suns will hold an “Open Practice” brought you by NAU on Saturday where fans can get an inside look at Kokoškov’s coaching style. Click HERE to RSVP!