Sasha Vezenkov: the road to become the EuroLeague MVP

Sasha Vezenkov is maybe the hottest name right now in the EuroLeague as he led Olympiacos to the 1st place in the regular season and then (with a big contribution from Kostas Sloukas too) helped the Reds to beat Fenerbahce and qualify for the second straight season to the Final Four. Due to his amazing year both individually and in terms of team success, the Bulgarian forward will most likely receive the EuroLeague MVP trophy this year.

Sasha is 27 now and he is playing the best basketball in his life. While he has been considered a big talent since he was a teenager, he was always a role player in his teams, playing in the shadows of superstars like Juan Carlos Navarro or Vassilis Spanoulis.

After winning the MVP and best scorer title of the Greek League at a very young age (Vezenkov has Greek and Cypriot citizenship too besides Bulgarian), Vezenkov was transferred by Barcelona in 2015. He played three seasons for the Blaugrana, but he couldn’t win a spot in the starting lineup (he started just 8 times in this period) and was signed by Olympiacos in 2018. His first two years in Greece were not completely successful either, as he only averaged a little over 11 minutes per game. Last season he started to play a major role in the rotation used by Georgios Bartzokas, averaging 30 minutes per game and he was 3rd in the EuroLeague MVP voting after Nikola Mirotic and Mike James.

In the 2022-23 season however, Vezenkov was the clear favourite to win MVP as he leads the EuroLeague in points with 17.2 ppg and is also the best rebounder of his team with 6.8 rpg. His PIR of 21.2 per game is also by far the best in the EuroLeague, as the second place belongs to Mathias Lessort with 19.1 per game.

There are many rumours that Vezenkov will make the step to the NBA this summer. His rights belong to the Sacramento Kings and Mike Brown, the head coach of the team from California personally attended the Game 5 between Olympiacos and Fenerbahce. It would be a further step forward in the career of Vezenkov, who would play for an NBA contender just a few years after being labelled as a EuroLeague bench player.

Imre Halasz

Photo credit: EuroLeague