UK: 18+ USA: 21+ | Begambleaware.org | T&Cs apply | Play Responsibly
The 2023 NBA Draft night was busy for the Sacramento Kings and yet they kept looking for more depth even after the night of the draft. On July 01st at the start of Free Agency the Kings announced that they have signed the freshly crowned EuroLeague MVP Bulgarian power forward Sasha Vezenkov on a 3-year $20 million deal. Let’s find out more about who Sasha is and what he will bring with him to Sacramento.
Vezenkov’s Family and upbringing
Sasha Vezenkov is born to Bulgarian parents in Cyprus. He grew up in the capital Nicosia where his parents were working for many decades as medical specialists. In his teenage years, his family moved to Greece, again due to his parents relocating for work.
Sasha fell in love with basketball from a very early age and as he was by far the tallest boy in his class at school, both his parents are very tall themselves, he began playing basketball at age 7.
“I was a good few heads above everyone in my early years in Nicosia. It was fun. I was the star of my team. I felt accepted for the first time, being Bulgarian abroad and all. This made me love basketball so much that there was no question what I want to become when I grow up.”
Sasha Vezenkov’s career so far
Sasha’s professional career began with Aris in the Greek SuperLeague. He played there from 2011 to 2015 and in 2013 was voted Greek League Best Young Player, while just 2 years later he was the league’s MVP.
Vezenkov then pulled his name out of the NBA draft twice in 2015 and 2016 as he didn’t feel ready to join the big guns. This also coincided with an unfortunate 3-year period for him at Barcelona in Spain. Between 2015-2018 he played for the Catalans but never got much chance and was mostly used off the bench. This was mainly why during the 2017 Draft Vezenkov was selected only with the 57th pick by the Brooklyn Nets. He was never invited to join the league then and his rights were traded to Cleveland and then in 2022 to Sacramento, with the Kings giving away the 49th pick of the 2022 Draft to acquire Vezenkov.
The true star qualities of Sasha began to emerge when he left Barcelona and joined Olympiacos in 2018 for 5 amazing years in Athens, Greece. The culmination of Vezenkov’s steady rise to become the best player in Europe was earlier this year when he became only the 2nd player in history to win both EuroLeague MVP and EuroLeague Scoring Trophy. He won 7 other individual awards in 2023, and led Olympiacos to the Greek League title, Greek Cup and the EuroLeague triumph.
Vezenkov averaged 17 .6 points on 66% shooting (38% from beyond the arc), 6.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
What plans do the Sacramento Kings have for Vezenkov?
The Kings didn’t hesitate to bring Sasha Vezenkov to their roster the moment Free Agency began. The fact that Sacramento’s leader De’Aaron Fox himself flew to Europe to watch Vezenkov play live indicates that the Kings see in the Bulgarian a valuable piece for their roster.
Early talks with coaches reveal that the plans for Vezenkov are to play big minutes and possibly even start next to Sabonis. The Kings really like the idea of the two Eastern Europeans sharing court time and communicating in a language not many could understand. Our sources tell us that Vezenkov could either be the main big on the court when Sabonis is resting, or the two could become the main front court. The coming pre-season will determine that.
Can the reigning EuroLeague MVP thrive in the NBA?
Sasha Vezenkov is a 6 ft 9 in (2.06m) power forward that is built exactly for the modern NBA. He averaged 62% from the floor over his last 3 years combined. He’s shooting just shy of 40% from beyond the arc and 88% from the free throw line. He can rebound, guard multiple positions and has lateral quickness not many men his size possess.
All this makes us believe that the 27-year-old Bulgarian could establish himself as a valuable NBA payer and we’re eager to see what the next batch of European basketball talents that came to the league this year will produce.
Subscribe to Punditfeed on Google News for all the latest updates from the world of sports!