Parenthood does tricky things to ones’ mind. One minute you think you’ve got all of your ducks in a row, the next you’re scrambling to cover all of your bases. In the case of this frazzled father, parenthood means looking back over recent work and realizing that your series of Cleveland Cavaliers Coaches Profiles finished a coach short. On that note, today Right Down Euclid takes a look at new Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Igor Kokoskov.
No one denies that Mike Brown has been a successful NBA head coach. With a career winning percentage of 65.3 (56.6 in the playoffs), and a trip to at least the second round of the playoffs in any full season he has coached, Brown’s success speaks for itself. However, when the average Cavalier fan thinks Brown, they think of an excellent defensive coach who runs a simple and boring offense. To be fair, some of this was due to LeBron James breaking plays whenever he felt the urge, but some of the issues on offense during Brown’s previous tenure fall squarely in the coaches’ lap. Even during the Cavalier’s more successful offensive seasons, credit was given to “offensive coordinator” John Kuester far more than it was to Brown. As Brown returns to the fold, Cavalier fans are excited to see him improve the team’s woeful defense, but are unsure of his ability to do the same on offense. Luckily, Brown has surrounded himself with an excellent coaching staff, which should be able to help him improve the offensive schemes of the Cavaliers. One coach who is expected to play a prominent role in improving the team’s offensive is new assistant coach Igor Kokoskov.
While still just 41 years old, the native Serbian brings extensive NBA and international coaching experience to the Cavaliers. Kokoskov began his NBA coaching career in 2000 with the Los Angeles Clippers as the first non-American to be hired as a full-time assistant coach in NBA history. In 2003, Kokoskov moved on to the Detroit Pistons, where he was an assistant coach during the entirety of a hugely successful Pistons run that included five trips to the conference finals, two NBA finals appearances, and the 2004 NBA Title during his five years there. In 2008, Kokoskov moved on to the Phoenix Suns. During his time with the Suns, he worked under three head coaches and was interim coach Lindsey Hunter’s lead assistant last season after former head coach Alvin Gentry was fired. During this time, Kokoskov ran the Suns’ offense while Hunter ran the defense. In addition to his NBA credentials, Kokoskov became the first European to hold an assistant coaching position in NCAA men’s basketball in 1999 at the University of Missouri. He has also served as the head coach of the Georgia national basketball team for the last five years.
Kokoskov is seen in basketball circles as a bright mind and unbelievable teacher, and is said to be a creative offensive coach who wants the ball in his point guard’s hands and favors and system-based offense over one that is play-based. He is also known to stress ball movement and pushing the tempo of the game on the offensive end, which should be music to Cavalier fan’s ears after years of watching “Iso-Lebron” and “get the ball to Kyrie”.
It will be interesting to see how much Kokoskov has the Cavaliers’ offense this season. If he can get the team to play an up-tempo, passing-oriented offense that is both efficient and fun, that along with the expected improvement in defense should make the Cleveland Cavaliers very fun to watch.