Sasha Vezenkov voices frustration over his role with the Kings

Sacramento Kings v Phoenix Suns
Sacramento Kings v Phoenix Suns / Kelsey Grant/GettyImages

Coming to the NBA is never easy, especially not for a 28-year-old who had spent his entire career playing in a different system. When the Kings signed Sasha Vezenkov in the summer, the excitement from the fanbase was huge. After all, who wouldn’t want a 6’8” sharpshooting EuroLeague MVP on their team?

The transition has not gone as smoothly as imagined, however. Coach Mike Brown made it clear right away that Vezenkov would have to earn his minutes just like everyone else outside the core. 

Defensively, the Bulgarian struggled with the speed of the NBA, but not due to a lack of effort. It is just an entirely different style of play than Vezenkov experienced in the EuroLeague. 

When he got to play, the forward showed good effort, great movement, solid rebounding, and no hesitation from beyond the arc. Nevertheless, he found himself on the bench more often than on the court. Just when it seemed that he had rotational minutes secured, Vezenkov went down with an ankle injury and we haven’t seen him play since early February. 

He seems to be getting close to returning to the lineup, however, and the Kings could really use him. With Trey Lyles and Kevin Huerter still out for an extended time, the team is really lacking size and shooting. Mike Brown won’t want to interrupt the good thing he and his team have going right now too much, but having Vezenkov available will be a nice security blanket. 

Vezenkov feels undervalued in the NBA

On March 25, the Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo published an interview with the former Barcelona star. Some of the things he had to say about his NBA journey should worry the Kings. 

“If you adapt quickly, you have a chance. If not, it’s really hard,” he told Toni Canyameras, suggesting that NBA teams don’t always allow the time necessary to get used to the new environment. 

That doesn’t just include rules and playing styles but also living in a new country, not being an English native speaker, and having new teammates around you. He definitely makes a fair point but the Kings are trying to win and aren’t really allowing anyone other than Keegan Murray to work through growing pains. 

When asked if he felt that EuroLeague MVPs like himself and Vasilije Micic are undervalued in the NBA, he agreed. 

“Yes, 100%,” he said, “I think we can play.” 

That comment especially should cause concern in the Kings’ organization and fanbase. Vezenkov doesn't have to be in the NBA if he would rather be a star in Europe. 

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