NBA Hoops

Season Review: Sasha Vezenkov – The Kings Herald

Season Review: Sasha Vezenkov - The Kings Herald

2023 EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov was Monte McNair’s biggest acquisition last offseason, and to say it wasn’t enough to propel the Kings forward would be an understatement.

To be completely fair, McNair and the Kings banked on internal improvement and continuity to drive the organization forward in 2023-24. We now know that the bets on internal improvement and continuity didn’t hit, but if you were an optimistic Kings fan, you were counting on several factors to swing in Sacramento’s favor: Keegan Murray was going to have a massive offensive leap. Every young player that had career years in 2022-23 would stay on the same upward trajectory. The Kings would once again have incredible injury luck. The defense would improve in year two under Mike Brown. And Sasha Vezenkov would have an immediate impact.

Some of those things happened. A lot of them didn’t. But we’re here to talk about Sasha. Because Sasha was the only notable addition, it probably put some unrealistic expectation on his immediate impact, and the Kings’ depth couldn’t really afford Sasha to not be effective. Unfortunately for much of the season, Sasha was either injured or not very effective.

Sasha Vezenkov: 5.4 PPG, .440 FG%, .375 3P%, 2.3 REB, 0.5 AST, 0.5 STL, 0.2 BLK

On his best days, Vezenkov was an exceptional outside shooter with a lightning-quick release and one of the best off-ball movers on the roster.

On his worst days, Vezenkov was a 3-point chucker that got repeatedly targeted and torched on defense, and didn’t show the athleticism required to be an impact NBA player.

He also missed 22 games in the middle of the season with an ankle injury, and it never felt like he earned Mike Brown’s full confidence. Vezenkov will turn 29 in August. You could argue that his rookie season in the NBA was just plain bad and expecting anything from him moving forward would be a mistake. That is a perfectly fair position. You could also argue that Sasha’s rookie season was cursed with injuries, inconsistent playing time, and that he needed more time than the Kings could afford to adjust to the NBA style and pace. That is also a fair position.

This is where I admit that I’ve been a Sasha Vezenkov truther in the past. I was excited when the Kings traded for his rights. I was excited when Monte McNair signed him to a 3-yr/$20M contract last summer. I thought he’d have a bigger impact in year 1. I was wrong.

All that being said, I’m not ready to abandon Vezenkov island…

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