Why Fox believes ‘workhorse' Sasha Vezenkov fits Kings system originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
The Kings put up the best offensive numbers the NBA has ever seen during the 2022-23 season, with a record-breaking 119.4 offensive rating led by De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and Co.
Surrounding the perimeter were young sharpshooters Keegan Murray, Malik Monk, Kevin Huerter and Trey Lyles – constantly running around the court, finding space, and letting the rock fly at a rapid rate.
That high-powered Kings offense will add another weapon during the upcoming 2023-24 season.
Sacramento signed reigning EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov, another lethal perimeter shooter that loves to move without the ball and find any amount of space to beat defenders with his quick, catch-and-shoot jump shot.
And without question, the leader of the pack approves.
"He's a worker. He's a workhorse,” Fox told NBC Sports California’s Deuce Mason and Morgan Ragan on the “Deuce and Mo” podcast Tuesday. “But yeah he's … just the type of guys that we have on the team. Just guys that are smart. Guys that know how to play basketball. He works right into us.”
The 6-foot-9 forward has shot 40 percent from 3-point range in his EuroLeague career. But while watching film and highlights, Vezenkov also seems to have a knack for making tough shots on defenders.
"We played 1s [Monday],” Fox said. “Me, [Vezenkov], and Kevin [Huerter]. But you watch him work out. It's like, 'Oh my gosh.' He hit one [three] on me, I'm like 'What the f--k' "
NBA Coach of Year recipient Mike Brown came to Sacramento known for his defensive skill set, but ended up unleashing a poetic pace-and-space offense that players like Vezenkov fit perfectly into.
"It just adds another piece, it adds another weapon, it spreads the floor out, it just makes us a much better basketball team,” Fox told Mason and Ragan. “And I think obviously for us, we know defensively we need to be better.
“He's come over, he knows he needs to be better as well. But he's, like I said, he's a worker. He's someone who's going to work until he's good at something so he's just, like I said, he just fits right into our team.”
Brown and the rest of the Kings staff had so many options when drawing up plays last season, whether it was using 20 seconds of the shot clock and moving the ball around, or a play for Fox and Sabonis.
Adding a lights-out shooter like Vezenkov significantly improves the sharpshooting toolbox and opens up a plethora of plays for the coaching staff to explore leading up to training camp on Oct. 2.
“Obviously he's not super athletic but he just knows how to play basketball and that's what we need,” Fox said. “That's what we want as a team."
One of the Kings' known weaknesses last season was oftentimes moving the ball too much, passing up open shots and subsequently turning the ball over or not getting anything out of a possession.
With this year's roster being even more flamethrower-heavy than last season with the Vezenkov addition, one can only imagine how many 3-pointers the Kings will attempt in the second season of the Mike Brown era.