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Kings’ Sasha Vezenkov Analyzes ‘Weird’ Rookie Season



The Sacramento Kings had high expectations heading into the 2023-24 season, despite a quiet 2023 off-season. The most notable move the Kings made last summer was bringing in reigning EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov, signing the Bulgarian forward to a three-year deal worth nearly $20 million.

Vezenkov was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets in the late second round of the 2017 NBA Draft but made his NBA debut six years later for the Kings. In his rookie season, Vezenkov averaged 5.4 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.5 assists in 12.2 minutes per game with 44.0/37.5/80.0 shooting splits.

After spending much of his basketball career in multiple leagues across Europe, many expected his transition to the NBA to be rocky. Much of the world is aware of the different pace and play style in the NBA compared to other leagues, but Vezenkov was still shocked.

In his end-of-season press conference, Vezenkov spoke to Sacramento media on his transition to the Association and his rocky rookie year (via @SeanCunningham | X):

“Overall, I can say it was a weird season. Ups and downs. New game, new life. A couple of injuries. I tried to adjust as fast as possible, unfortunately we finished too early.” Vezenkov continued, “It was a new experience and I wanted to become better every day. Unfortunately, those two injuries held me back.”

Vezenkov also mentions how “insane” the talent is in the NBA and how much faster-paced it is than what he is used to. After playing European-style basketball for so long, Vezenkov thinks he needs to “improve everything” to fit into the style of the NBA.

Besides the transition itself being a difficult task, Vezenkov had poor injury luck. Vezenkov appeared in just three games through February and March and missed 31 of Sacramento’s last 40 games of the regular season with two different ankle injuries.

Vezenkov is under contract with Sacramento for two more seasons, and the Kings certainly hope the former EuroLeague MVP can live up to their expectations in the future. Vezenkov showed flashes of being an elite shooter, which many expected him to be this season. Hopefully, after a season of experience, Vezenkov will be more prepared and effective for next season.

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