Sasha Vezenkov reflects on ‘weird’ first NBA season

Apr 24, 2024, 8:43 AM

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 31: Sasha Vezenkov #7 of the Sacramento Kings looks on in the third ...

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Expectations were high for Sasha Vezenkov last summer when he inked a multi-year deal to finally make the leap from the EuroLeague to the NBA.

After securing EuroLeague MVP honors while playing for Greek club Olympiacos, Vezenkov—the 57th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft—joined a Sacramento Kings team that was coming off its first NBA Playoff appearance in 17 years.

While it appeared that Vezenkov, a 28-year-old sharpshooter, would fit in seamlessly with Sacramento’s pass-heavy and three-point-shooting-based offense, the forward found himself in and out of head coach Mike Brown’s rotations as the regular season began.

Once Vezenkov reemerged as a player in Brown’s rotation, the Bulgarian talent suffered a left ankle sprain that kept him sidelined for two weeks. Upon returning, Vezenkov injured his right ankle—a grade 3 partial tear—that kept him out of action for seven weeks, including the bulk of the Kings’ postseason push.

YouTube video

“Overall, it was I can say, a like, weird season. Ups and downs, new game, new life, a couple of injuries,” Vezenkov said of his first NBA season. “I tried to adjust as fast as possible, and you know, unfortunately we finish too early. Everybody wanted to continue and go deep into the playoffs, but we have to learn from that.

“It was as I said, a new experience, and I wanted every day to become better. Unfortunately, those two injuries, I think they held me back, but the whole situation was a little bit difficult and different.”

Over 42 appearances this season, Vezenkov posted averages of 5.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game on 44 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent on attempts from three-point range. The 6’9 forward averaged 12.2 minutes per contest, ranking tenth among players Sacramento’s roster.

“It’s tough, you know, because I understand like the core of the team, like seven people were playing constant minutes, and then for the rest of us, like, today, maybe [it’s] you, the next day someone else, you know? It’s really tough,” Vezenkov said of his minutes and role.

“At the end of the day, that’s what we have to do. That’s what we’re getting paid to do, but it’s tough, you know, because maybe you can play today, and then you have limited minutes to show what you can do, but there’s one team. That’s why we have roles, and that’s why it’s a team.

But the one thing I can say, it’s really tough. You have to be mentally strong and sometimes throughout the stretch of the year, you’re missing it, like you miss your path, and then you have to be strong again and you need a little bit of everything, you need good games. You need like to play one, two good games to feel it. Then it’s weird and tough as I said, it’s different.”

You can listen to Vezenkov’s full end-of-season press conference by clicking ‘play’ on the video within this post, or watch the interview–along with other interviews from Kings players–by checking out the Sactown Sports 1140 YouTube page.

NBA Offseason Schedule

  • Sunday, May 12 – NBA Draft Lottery
  • Wednesday, June 26-Thursday, June 27th – 2024 NBA Draft
  • Sunday, June 30th – Free Agent negotiating window opens (3 PM PST)
  • Saturday, July 6th – Free Agents can officially sign contracts
  • July 12-22nd – Las Vegas Summer League
  • July 27-August 11th – 2024 Olympic Games
  • Friday, September 27th – NBA training camps begin

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