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After high-scoring performance at EuroBasket, could Sasha Vezenkof be headed to NBA soon?

Sasha Vezenkof has made a name for himself at EuroBasket 2022, and it’s fair to ask whether or not he’s ready to play in the NBA.

Take a look at the list of scoring leaders from the FIBA EuroBasket tournament this summer, and you’ll find it reads like an NBA All-Star lineup.

Giannis, Luka, Jokic… all of those dudes have been balling out for their countries during the Group Stage.

But there’s one name you probably haven’t heard of– a Bulgarian scoring machine who carried his country with 26.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per, and who’s already been drafted and traded twice but has never stepped foot on a court in the NBA.

That guy’s name? Aleksandar ‘Sasha’ Vezenkof.

At 6-9, 225 pounds, the 27-year-old proved to be a matchup nightmare and capable of going toe-to-toe (statistically, at least) with some of the best players in the world.

Check out some of his highlights, and you’ll see him looking a little like Luka Doncic as he backs down defenders and cashes jumpers over them in the post, drains 3s with a feathery shooting touch, and makes plays all over the floor.

Against one of the world’s best teams in Spain, Vezenkof scored 26 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 3-of-5 from deep, and grabbed 11 rebounds.

He also poured in 28 points each against Turkey and Georgia, and 26 each against Belgium and Montenegro. Bulgaria went just 1-4 and were beaten by double digits in each of its four losses, but at the very least, Vezenkof proved that he has what it takes to score consistently against European competition.

Despite the relative obscurity that comes with playing for Bulgaria, Vezenkof is by no means a new name to NBA scouts. He was drafted in 2017 by the Brooklyn Nets, taken with the 57th overall pick, but both parties decided he’d stay in Europe to continue to develop. The Nets then traded him to Cleveland as part of the James Harden trade in 2021, and the Cavs shipped him to the Sacramento Kings ahead of the 2022 draft.

So, Sacramento now owns the rights to Vezenkof, though it was reported back in July that he would not come over for the 2022-23 season. Brett Siegel of SI.com’s Fan Nation wrote that there had been some talk the Kings were entertaining the idea of bringing him over, but that they’re happy with the roster they’ve constructed for the season. You’d have to think that they may be reconsidering that right now.

In addition to seeing his face show up on graphics alongside Luka and the Greek Freak at EuroBasket, Vezenkof has been on the come-up in the EuroLeague as well. Last season, he led Greek power Olympiacos Piraeus to the EuroLeague’s Final Four, averaging a team-high 13.7 points per game. He was even thought of as an MVP candidate.

It may just be an aberration– a run of great games against somewhat subpar competition in the EuroBasket, and Sasha Vezenkof may not become an NBA player. Or, like Italy’s Simone Fontecchio after balling out at last year’s Olympics, he may parlay this hot streak into an NBA contract. The Jazz signed Fontecchio in July.

Either way, when Vezenkof checks out that EuroBasket top scorers list, he’s got to feel some pride.

Here’s the list: Antetokounmpo, Doncic, Lauri Markkanen, and him. That’s some pretty good company.

It’s not easy to find yourself next to those names, and if Vezenkof keeps playing like this, he may find himself on an NBA court with them, too.

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