The Phoenix Suns’ decision to draft Deandre Ayton with the first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft has been scrutinized for years.
On one hand, the front office walked away with a very promising young big man. The fact that he was a key piece of last year’s NBA Finals group speaks for itself.
On the other – Phoenix had the opportunity to draft Luka Doncic. Instead, he went to the Dallas Mavericks.
A lot of folks have wondered why then-head coach Igor Kokoskov didn’t petition for Doncic. After all, he coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team and won the EuroBasket championship with him in 2017. Turns out – it wasn’t up to him.
This week, ESPN NBA insider Tim MacMahon sat down with Brian Windhorst on the Hoops Collective podcast. During the pair’s conversation, they revealed what really led to Phoenix passing on Doncic.
“I’ve been told by multiple people who were with the Phoenix organization that [picking Ayton] was a total Robert Sarver move,” said MacMahon. “It sure wasn’t [then-Suns coach] Igor [Kokoskov]. He wanted them obviously to get Luka, and to put a big offer on the table for Clint Capela.”
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Windhorst then pointed out that Ayton is a University of Arizona product – which just so happens to be Sarver’s alma mater.
The Suns are obviously still a great team without Doncic – when they aren’t resorting to dirty tactics. But it’s hard not to imagine “what-if” scenarios involving Doncic in a Suns jersey given the caliber of player he ultimately turned into.