Sam Smith has been a Chicago Bulls insider for decades.
He wrote the infamous Jordan Rules book in the 1990s and is still a main figure in the media for the team today. So, when he speaks about the Bulls’ past, present or future, people listen.
A video of Smith discussing new Hall-of-Famer and Bulls great Toni Kukoc hit Twitter on Friday and Smith had some bold statements about the European hoops pioneer.
Toni Kukoc Could Have Been Like Luka Doncic, Says Bulls Insider
Smith followed Kukoc’s career from the moment former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause became enamored with the highly skilled Croatian in the mid 1990s.
Kukoc won three championship rings with the Bulls alongside Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, but Smith believes the HOFer traded some individual glory when he signed to be a part of the Bulls dynasty.
In fact, according to Smith, Kukoc would have been similar to Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic 30 years ago. Smith said in the video below:
“If Toni Kukoc had gone to almost any team other than the Bulls… he’d be what Luka Doncic is now.”
If you never got a chance to watch Kukoc play in the 1990s you might dismiss what Smith is saying. However, if you saw Kukoc play for those Bulls teams and can imagine him on a squad similar to what Doncic has in Dallas, it is a believable concept.
Toni Kukoc’s Skillset Was Similar to Luka Doncic
Doncic is such a talented player. His ability to create off the dribble for himself and his teammates makes him one of the best offensive players in the NBA.
In this third season in the NBA, Doncic averaged 27.7 points per game, 8 rebounds and 8.6 assists. Kukoc never approached those numbers, but that’s mostly because he spent a good portion of his prime playing with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen as a sixth man.
Kukoc won the Sixth Man of the Year award for the 1995-96 season, which was the year the Chicago Bulls set a then-record of 72-10 in the regular season. In 1998-99 with the glory days of the Bulls over, Kukoc averaged a career high 18 points per contest for a dreadful Bulls squad. He was already 30 years old by the time.
While still effective and crafty, he was past his prime and before his time. NBA coaches weren’t allowing the freedom and creativity that we see in today’s game, and defensive rules were very different.
Kukoc in this area would have gaudier numbers, but he probably wouldn’t trade away the three NBA championship rings he won for those numbers.
Toni Kukoc Gives Scottie Pippen His Props
Everyone knows Jordan is the greatest of his and probably every era of the NBA, but that doesn’t mean he was everyone’s favorite teammate. Kukoc told Smith in an interview on NBA.com:
“I always say Michael probably was the best player. Scottie, to me, was as important as Michael. Because of that idea that Scottie was taking care of the whole team and was guarding people. He would bring the ball up and would find the right people and then for Michael it was, ‘OK, take us home.'”
Pippen hasn’t been getting a lot of love in Chicago of late, but at least Kukoc–a target of one of Pippen’s recent tirades–still has respect for his old teammate.
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