A do-it-all forward who hit the ground running on opening night and didn’t stop until his team was in the Final Four, Sasha Vezenkov of Olympiacos Piraeus has been chosen by fans, media, team captains and head coaches as the MVP of the 2022-23 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
Whether sniping from the perimeter, cutting for layups or rebounding and running, Vezenkov always gave his team enough surefire options to stay a step ahead of the tightest race in league history to finish first in the regular season. Then, Olympiacos made its home-court advantage in the playoffs pay off with a no-doubt-about-it win at Peace and Friendship Stadium in Game 5 to return to the Final Four for a second consecutive year.
Along the way, Vezenkov put up special numbers as the top scorer of the competition with 17.2 points per game while ranking second in both rebounds (6.8) and two-point shots made (4.4). He led the league with an average performance index rating of 21.2, becoming the second player after Luka Doncic in 2017-18 to sustain a PIR of 21.0 or higher after more than 30 games in any EuroLeague season. He also tied for the league lead with 8 double-doubles based on six games in which he scored 20 points or more while pulling down at least 10 rebounds.
Vezenkov was chosen for two MVP of the Month awards, in November and February -- matching the most by any player in one season -- and earned five MVP of the Round nods, one short of tying the single-season record.
He becomes just the second player ever to win the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy and the MVP award in the same season, after Nando De Colo of CSKA Moscow in 2015-16.
Vezenkov put the league on notice by averaging 24.0 points and 10.3 rebounds as Olympiacos started 4-0, including a sweep through Spain of road wins against two other Final Four qualifiers, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as Cazoo Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. He scored at least 13 points in each of the first 15 games, including putting up 24 points against ALBA Berlin without taking a single dribble.
He subsequently went on an 11-game tear in which he averaged 19 points and 7.6 rebounds, ending it with a game-winning shot at Zalgirio Arena, home of the Final Four, to put the Reds in the playoffs before any other team. Once in the playoffs, he scored 17 points or more in four of the five games, including all three won by Olympiacos to reach the Final Four.
Vezenkov, who is Bulgarian and was raised in Cyprus, started his EuroLeague career playing three seasons with FC Barcelona between 2015 and 2018, including one under his current Olympiacos head coach, Georgios Bartzokas. He joined Olympiacos in the summer of 2018 and became a full-time starter last season when he was voted to the All-EuroLeague First Team after helping Olympiacos return to the Final Four for the first time in five years.
Vezenkov becomes the third Olympiacos player to be voted MVP, after Milos Teodosic in 2010 and Vassilis Spanoulis in 2013.