Potential Future Kings Forward Sasha Vezenkov Impresses During EuroBasket
If you were hoping that Sasha Vezenkov would come over to the NBA for the 2022-23 season, watching the forward play during EuroBasket might have been a tough watch.
Just months after the 27-year-old decided to remain with his EuroLeague club Olympiacos B.C. instead of joining the Sacramento Kings, Vezenkov put on an offensive clinic for his Bulgarian squad during EuroBasket 2022.
Not only did Vezenkov place his name among some of the top talents in the NBA that were also competing in group play, but he also did so with ease during five appearances over the past week. In those five games, the 6’9 forward averaged 26.8 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists while shooting 49 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point land.
He wants that first W!
— #EuroBasket 2022 (@EuroBasket) September 4, 2022
When the dust settled on group play, Bulgaria was unable to advance to the Round of 16, but Vezenkov made his mark.
Looking at the leaders from group play, there are some names that you might recognize:
Points per game
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) – 31.0 points per game
- Sasha Vezenkov (Bulgaria) – 26.8 points per game
- Luka Dončić (Slovenia) – 26.6 points per game
- Lauri Markkanen (Finland) – 24.8 points per game
- Džanan Musa (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – 21.4 points per game
- Nikola Jokic (Serbia) – 19.8 points per game
Rebounds per game
- Sasha Vezenkov (Bulgaria) – 12.2 rebounds per game
- Jonas Valančiūnas (Lithuania) – 11.4 rebounds per game
- Alexander Mamukelashvili (Georgia) – 11.0 rebounds per game
- Nikola Jokic (Serbia) – 10.5 rebounds per game
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) – 10.3 rebounds per game
- Rudy Gobert (France) – 9.0 rebounds per game
Vezenkov posted a double-double in four of his five EuroBasket appearances, tying Georgia’s Alexander Mamukelashvili for the most during group play.
The floor-spacing forward possesses the skill to help Sacramento at the NBA level, something that Kings general manager Monte McNair and the rest of the front office are assuredly hoping for in the coming seasons.
After the Sacramento Kings acquired Vezenkov’s NBA rights during a draft day deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers back on June 23rd, questions regarding the Greek League MVP’s future started to make their way around the basketball world. Vezenkov was rumored to be interested in a move to the NBA, but will reportedly return to play another season in Piraeus, Greece.
Vezenkov had until July 20th to exercise the NBA opt-out clause in his contract but eventually decided against the move overseas.
That doesn’t mean that we won’t ever see Vezenkov in Sacramento, however.
According to EuroHoops.net’s Antonis Stroggylakis, recently hired Kings head coach Mike Brown shared that the team invited Veznekov out to visit Sacramento, but the forward was unable to travel out to California due to his Bulgarian national team obligations.
“He’s big and versatile. He can shoot the ball, he’s a veteran, and he’s smart. He just knows how to play the game,” Brown said of Vezenkov’s game.
“We were hoping he could come out so we’d get to know him a little bit and take a look at him but he had other commitments this summer, especially with the national team and all this stuff,” Brown said. “We have his rights so we’ll circle back at him next summer.”
When asked about Brown being in attendance and any future aspirations to join the Kings in the NBA, Vezenkov told EuroHoops.net’s Semih Tuna that he will see where he is at physically next summer before making that decision.
“It’s a big season, I have a big priority with my team Olympiacos in what will be a very difficult year. My only thought is to stay focused and stay healthy, to give everything I can [to Olympiacos]. And then we will see. Next summer is ten months away. The first thing is to be healthy and we will see”.
While Kings fans might have to wait until the 2023-24 season to witness Vezenkov spot up for a triple at Golden 1 Center, EuroBasket 2022 was hopefully a sneak peek of what is to come at the NBA level for the talented forward.