Last season, the Kings took the NBA by surprise. Everyone knew that they had good players but few, if any, expected them to put together a historic offense. Nevertheless, the Kings finally snapped their seemingly eternal playoff drought and battled the Golden State Warriors in a seven-game first-round series.
Now, Sacramento’s success won’t take anyone by surprise, but the team still has some aces up its sleeves. So, let’s look at three Kings that could shock the world this upcoming season.
Player # 3: Sasha Vezenkov
Sasha Vezenkov was originally drafted by the Nets with the 57th pick in 2017 but remained in Europe. Over the years, his draft rights moved to the Cavaliers and then to the Kings. On July 18, 2023, the Bulgarian stretch four finally signed a three-year $20 million deal with Sacramento.
Vezenkov had great success playing in Europe, winning the latest EuroLeague MVP award, but is still considered somewhat of a wild card due to his lack of NBA experience. The Kings, however, seem to expect him to have an immediate impact off the bench, and justifiably so.
Vezenkov should fit the Kings’ system well, adding to the team’s strengths. He can stretch the floor for De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, who both like to operate in the paint, cash in on simple catch-and-shoot threes for a start, and add some firepower off the bench. Last season, the Kings’ bench ranked ninth in scoring in the league and shot 35.2 percent from three.
Adding even more scoring to the bench would not only allow the Kings to better match up with some of the deeper teams but also to withstand injuries. After all, there is no guarantee that the Kings will be as healthy as they were last season.
While the team and Kings’ fans are aware of Vezenkov’s potential, he is a very under-the-radar player in the U.S. basketball world. Thus, he will probably not get much hype in the All-Rookie conversation even though he is much more mature and a more complete player than the ordinary rookie at the age of 28.
Moreover, he will get plenty of opportunities to have a real impact on a winning team and could easily match up with some of the higher-profile NBA newbies. He probably won’t receive much attention in the Rookie of the Year race considering the other names in the conversation, but impact-wise, he should be up there with some of the best rookies.
If Vezenkov can get used to the NBA game quickly, shoot lights out, and be the new face to help get the Kings back to the postseason, Vezenkov could truly take the basketball world by surprise.