Aleksandar Vezenkov

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Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#1 » by stitches » Sat Nov 1, 2014 3:21 am

Here's an European prospect I haven't seen many people talk about. It's Aleksandar Vezenkov. He's a 19 year old, 6'9'' small/power forward whose best attribute is his shooting... and he's a leftie. He's the son of one of the prominent Bulgarian basketball directors Sasho Vezenkov. He grew up in Cyprus and has never played in Bulgaria, he started his career in the Greek Aris a couple of years ago. Last year he declared for Xavier University, but later decided to stay in Europe and turn pro. He's been dominating the FIBA U16, U18 and U20 European championships for the past 5 years or so. In 2011's U16 FIBA Euro Championship he averaged 27 and 10. In 2013 he lead the U18 FIBA Euro Championship in both points and rebounds with 22.4 and 10.2 respectively, and several months ago he repeated the same feat this time at the U20 Championship with 19.3pts and 11.2 rebs per game. He's been playing for a weak Bulgaria national team but still his high usage comes with pretty high efficiency. He also made the first team of the tournament. In all his international play he averages about 50%FG, 40% 3p FG and about 80% FT.

Last year he played for the Greek Aris in the first Greek basketball division and got a lot of playing minutes averaging 11.1pt, 6rb, 2.1 ast, 0.9 steals in 26 minutes of play as an 18 year old. His shooting %s were 49/39/76.

In the summer he was with Bulgaria's Men national team, playing qualies for Euro Championship. He's been the leader of the team there as well, which was really surprising to me. I didn't believe his transition would be so seamless. His averages were 34MPG, 17.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.3 TO. Shooting % are as follows: 51%FG, 37% 3Pt, 72% FT. In one of the games he dropped 18 on Omri Casspi.

His strengths are his shooting/scoring and rebounding, he seems to have very good basketball IQ as well, he's willing and able passer as well. Main weaknesses are his athleticism, quickness and on-man defense. Here's a scouting report that was published on him by Rafael Uehara in August:

http://upsidemotor.com/2014/08/19/aleksandar-vezenkov-scouting-2014/
Aleksandar Vezenkov Scouting Report: August 2014
Posted on August 19, 2014 by Rafael Uehara

Aleksandar Vezenkov did what was expected of him in the European Championships U20 last month. He logged 704 minutes against grown men in 25 appearances for Aris in the Greek league last season, so he should have dominated his age group once he stepped down a level. But it was mighty impressive nonetheless. Vezenkov scored 174 points in 323 minutes, meaning he actually dropped a point every other minute. And that’s with him missing three quarters of his 53 three-point attempts, which is actually his best skill.

The six-foot-eight combo forward is a gunner who does most of his damage from beyond the arc. Over half of his shots were from three-point range in the Greek league and he hit them at a 38.4% clip while averaging over two makes per 36 minutes. Vezenkov has very good mechanics and a quick trigger off the catch. Like most left-handed shooters, he doesn’t angle his body straight towards the basket but rather on a 45-degree angle. Good elevation leads to a high release point that makes it hard for opponents to contest his shot effectively.

Vezenkov was played as a stretch four at Aris. He got a chance to run a pick-and-roll here and there but mostly screened for the pick-and-pop (poorly; doesn’t look to draw contact but rather focuses on slipping towards a shooting spot too quickly) and spaced the defense as a spot up threat. He is able to put the ball on the floor and attack closeouts, but possesses an average first step, isn’t quick even on straight line drives and still isn’t consistent dribbling the ball lower than hip level, which makes him susceptible to getting stripped in traffic; his 15.8% turnover rate is rather high in the context of his 18.1% usage rate.

Vezenkov was still a very effective player off the bounce, though, due to his pull-up shooting and finishing touch at rim level the times he was able to get to the basket, where he proved himself able to finish around length. Only two of his 204 attempts were blocked and he finished 63% of his two-point attempts. Most of them were of the jump-shot variety, which led to a low free throw rate (he averaged just 1.8 foul shots per 28 minutes) but Vezenkov was so prolific at them that he ranked in the top 20 among all players in offensive rating, according to RealGM.com.

He has proven himself a very willing passer, both making the extra pass out of dribble penetration and entering the ball to the post facing the defense from the perimeter. His 16.8% led the Greek league in assist rate among power forwards. Vezenkov did well from the post in the European Championships U20 but smaller opponents were able to front and successfully deny him the ball at the pro level. When he got the ball, Vezenkov flashed a turnaround, fadeaway that could become a money maker. Spending the vast majority of his time away from the lane at Aris, he was a non-factor on the offensive glass.

He’s a poor individual defender due to limited foot speed. Vezenkov can bend his knees and get on his stance but lacks lateral mobility to defend in isolation and offers very little resistance in space. He was a tougher defender on the post than on the perimeter, where he was unable to contain dribble penetration through contact despite his frame. Vezenkov was not an asset in rim protection (blocking just three shots in the Greek league and zero in the European Championships U20) or playing the passing lane to manufacture turnovers and struggled to closeout on shooters. He was, however, very active on the glass, controlling almost 20% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.

Ultimately, Vezenkov is probably more of a potential European star than an NBA player right now. Down the road, Vezenkov may be able to make the NBA as a spot-up shooting threat from the combo forward position in the way that Kostas Papanikolaou will hope to help the Rockets this season. Given that, right now Vezenkov profiles as a good second round prospect for someone to take a chance on.


A lot of people say he's playing style is more suited to the Euroleague than to the NBA, but he's said on numerous of occasions that his goal is NBA and he believes in due time it will happen. In the DraftExpress mock draft he's listed in the second round in 2015.
Here are a few vids of him:

Highlights of his U18 tournament:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp6fiJ_Ngkk[/youtube]

A feature on him by FIBA:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw_pQIzGY1c[/youtube]

Highlights of his game(19pts) against Euroleague champion Olympiakos:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4pyou7OD3M[/youtube]

The new season is on in Greece. Vezenkov had a 19 point game in the season-opener for Aris(9/11 shooting, 1/2 3pt, 8rbs) and 13 pts in the second game(13 pts, 7 rbs, 2ast, 2st, 6/10 shooting, 1/2 from 3). Here's a video of his season opener:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2EaCNR7PUs[/youtube]

According to some media sources, series of NBA team's scouts have already spend some time scouting him(I've heard about Spurs, Knicks and LAL). I wish he had even average athleticism. He would have been a lottery kind of prospect, but with his current physical attributes it seems like early-mid second round is more reasonable expectation.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#2 » by stitches » Sat Nov 8, 2014 8:01 pm

According to Eurohoops.net Shane Kupperman and Bryson Graham of the Pelicans watched Vezenkov today(Kupperman is director of basketball operations for the Pelicans and Graham is a video coordinator and player development coach). Vezenkov finished with team high 16pts(6/10FG, 3/4 3PFG), as well as 4rbs and 2 ast in a win 83:80. In his previous game he had double-double 13 and 12. His team Aris is currently leading the league with along with Panathinaikos without a loss. Vezenkov is averaging 15.5 and 8 and shooting 60% from 3 for the season so far.

Any greek guys here who watch him regularly? Can you give more information about his general level of play, besides the empty stats?
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#3 » by stitches » Sat Nov 22, 2014 8:43 pm

Weekly update on Vezenkov. He played another 2 great games in the Greek last two weeks:

vs Koroibos
23 points(8/15 FG, 2/5 3p FG, 5/8 FT), 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block

vs Kolossos Rhodes
21 points(8/11 FG, 3/5 FG, 2/4 FT), 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal

He's averaging for the season: 17.5ppg (62%FG, 58% 3P FG, 67%FT), 9.3rpg, 1.5 assists.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#4 » by stitches » Mon Feb 9, 2015 4:33 am

Had 29pts/14rbs/3ast game this week:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jYDtCk2KHU[/youtube]
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#5 » by Mirotic12 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:26 pm

Vezenkov does not play at all at SF position. Draftexpress claims he does, but that is untrue. He does not play at SF position at all with Aris. He is much too slow laterally on the perimeter to play as a SF. He is strictly a PF only. And he easily has PF size. If we go by "NBA type height" then he is probably about 6-10. He is in no way a SF, and definitely cannot be used as one.

Also, it is not just that he has never played in Bulgaria, it is that he has never lived in Bulgaria. He has lived his whole life in Cyprus, where he was born, in an all Greek community, and in Greece, where he lived since he was 14.

He considers himself a Greek person, but he does play for Bulgaria national teams due to a sense of obligation to parents, even though he considers himself a Greek person and of Greek nationality.

That is unfortunate I think for his prospects, because it would have helped him a lot more if he trained in Greek programs instead of Bulgaria ones and also much better prospects for his future if he was in Greece's program also. I have heard rumors from some scouts in Spain though that he might move to Greek national team soon. Since he might have a chance one day to make their senior national team, which would mean much greater development for him.

I think if he does that then a Greek club with a lot more money than Aris (AEK Athens, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos) might give him a big contract and he might just stay in Greece anyway, because then NBA teams would not really be that interested probably until his contract ended. For now he is playing on a relatively small contract in Aris so it is different.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#6 » by peZt » Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:01 pm

Mirotic12 wrote:He considers himself a Greek person, but he does play for Bulgaria national teams due to a sense of obligation to parents, even though he considers himself a Greek person and of Greek nationality.


Did he tell you that?
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#7 » by 20110913 » Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:20 am

peZt wrote:
Mirotic12 wrote:He considers himself a Greek person, but he does play for Bulgaria national teams due to a sense of obligation to parents, even though he considers himself a Greek person and of Greek nationality.


Did he tell you that?


haha, what he think maybe is different with what he did and will do.

I dont believe he think he is a Greek, UNLESS His mother is a greek.
but I think he will be in the greece national team, because he looks like a greek
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#8 » by mihail_petkov » Thu Apr 2, 2015 9:23 am

Vezenkov is Bulgarian, his parents are Bulgarian too and he is playing for Bulgarian national team. He has lived in Greece for many years, but this doesn't mean he is Greek.
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Post#9 » by Greek » Thu Apr 2, 2015 5:28 pm

He is Bulgarian no doubt about it but it's fact that he lived pretty much all of his life in two countries with greek population.

For his career is much better if he decides to play for Greece. Actually a very talented guard who is playing for Olympiacos (Christodoulou) while is 100% Cypriot choose for career reasons to play with the Greek NT.

By the way I've read somewhere that PAO has strong interest on Vezenkov
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#10 » by Von Bismarck » Thu Apr 2, 2015 5:40 pm

He is indeed Bulgarian, 'Vezenkov' is by no means Greek surname, it's Slavic one.

@Greek, well that's completely different. Christodoulou is Greek Cypriot.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#11 » by Mirotic12 » Thu Apr 2, 2015 10:04 pm

Von Bismarck wrote:He is indeed Bulgarian, 'Vezenkov' is by no means Greek surname, it's Slavic one.

@Greek, well that's completely different. Christodoulou is Greek Cypriot.


Yes, and Vezenkov is also a Greek Cypriot. The difference is that he is a Greek Cypriot of Bulgarian descent. He's not "a Bulgarian". He's a Greek Cypriot of Bulgarian descent. He was born in Cyprus and has lived there and in Greece his whole life in all Greek communities. Speaks Greek, reads Greek, writes Greek, and relates to that culture and customs generally and feels Greek.

That is what he claims anyway. He also of course then has been educated in Greek schools and history and everything. So under Greek law, he is a Greek, and also for the purpose of the Greek national team, he eligible to play for it.

So he can play for either Bulgaria's national team, due to that they allow players of descent to play for them, even if they did not live there, which is why he has been playing for them, because of his Bulgarian descent, and he can also play for Greece's national team, because under Greek law and Greek national team rules, he is eligible, as he is considered eligible as full born Greek citizen, via being from Cyprus. Since of course that Cyprus is recognized still by Greece as being Greek people and not separate that way, despite what UN says.

So that would be his status. Cypriot Greek of Bulgarian descent. If he could not play in Greek national team and not be considered Greek and have Greek citizenship, then neither could Antetokounmpo brothers, who are Greek citizens of Nigerian descent, born from both parents that are Nigerians that were born in Nigeria. It is same exact thing. Or did you think that Antetokounmpo was a Greek surname?

Or like how he plays in Bulgaria's teams all this time, even though he has been living all these years in Cyprus and Greece in Greek communities and was born in Cyprus. FIBA simply goes by whatever nationality rules that country has and however their basketball federation then wants to apply them. They don't go by things like ethnicity, descent from parents, or whatever. If that was the case then teams like Argentina and USA would never have been allowed to compete in the last 20 something years.

I don't know if it is true or not that he is considering to move to Greece's national team soon, but the fact is that he is eligible to play for both Bulgaria and Greece, and probably also Cyprus.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#12 » by Marcus » Thu Apr 2, 2015 10:18 pm

looks a little like David Lee in the face.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#13 » by Fischella » Thu Apr 2, 2015 10:21 pm

He is a bit like Teletovic, I dont think he is an NBA prospect just yet, but a few years down the road he could be a stretch four type.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#14 » by Mirotic12 » Thu Apr 2, 2015 10:28 pm

Fischella wrote:He is a bit like Teletovic, I dont think he is an NBA prospect just yet, but a few years down the road he could be a stretch four type.


He is taller and longer than Teletovic and Teletovic is way more athletic than he is. Also, I think Teletovic has much better range and shooting ability than him. Vezenkov is a much better team player and has much better basketball IQ, and plays much better within a team's system. He's also a much better rebounder.

I don't see any comparison actually between those two players.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#15 » by Brazil88 » Thu Apr 2, 2015 11:57 pm

Pretty good numbers against good competition, but good God, this kid makes Matt Bonner look like an elite athlete. He moves like an old man.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#16 » by Mirotic12 » Fri Apr 3, 2015 11:07 pm

Brazil88 wrote:Pretty good numbers against good competition, but good God, this kid makes Matt Bonner look like an elite athlete. He moves like an old man.


That is why he plays as a PF and only as a PF. The sites listing him as a SF is a joke. He never plays there and he simply cannot. He does not log any minutes in Greek League at SF and he is not capable of it. So draftexpress for example saying he is a SF is really funny.

Also, they have him listed at 6-8, when he is certainly more like 6-10. So I think there is a lot of confusion about what type of player he is. He's basically like a 6-10 pure power forward. Nothing at all to do with how the mock draft sites are listing him.
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Re: Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#17 » by Greek » Sat Apr 4, 2015 12:46 am

Von Bismarck wrote:He is indeed Bulgarian, 'Vezenkov' is by no means Greek surname, it's Slavic one.

@Greek, well that's completely different. Christodoulou is Greek Cypriot.


Actually it's not. Even that the 82% of the Cypriots are Greek still Cyprus is an independent country and you can't qualify for the Greek NT without the Greek citizenship.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#18 » by Brazil88 » Sat Apr 4, 2015 7:57 am

Mirotic12 wrote:
Brazil88 wrote:Pretty good numbers against good competition, but good God, this kid makes Matt Bonner look like an elite athlete. He moves like an old man.


That is why he plays as a PF and only as a PF. The sites listing him as a SF is a joke. He never plays there and he simply cannot. He does not log any minutes in Greek League at SF and he is not capable of it. So draftexpress for example saying he is a SF is really funny.

Also, they have him listed at 6-8, when he is certainly more like 6-10. So I think there is a lot of confusion about what type of player he is. He's basically like a 6-10 pure power forward. Nothing at all to do with how the mock draft sites are listing him.


Yes, I understand that he is a PF, never said anything about SF, and that's why I used Matt Booner, a slow unathletic PF, when i wrote about Vezenkov poor athleticism. And, yes, he looks taller than 6'8'', probably around 6'9'' 6'10'', as you said. Which is a good height for a PF.

But again, judging by those videos, he looks completely unathletic and it's a shame 'cause he looks quite talented. IF he somehow improves his quickness and overall athleticism i can see him getting a chance in the NBA.
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#19 » by stitches » Wed Jun 3, 2015 2:20 am

Vezenkov just had a monster game in Greek League playoffs against Olympiakos:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgqk7gtonAA[/youtube]

28 pts(9/16 FG, 3/6 3pFG, 7/11FT), 6 rbs, 2ast, 1bl, 1stl...
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Re: Aleksandar Vezenkov 

Post#20 » by El Turco » Wed Jun 3, 2015 2:49 am

sounds like a great bulgarian talent, i'll be keeping my eye on him
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