Things are going from bad to worse for the Laker with the headband. Just a couple months after going 0 for the NBA Final, Sasha Vujacic has been cut by the Slovenian national team as it prepares for Eurobasket next week.
Vujacic’s shooting woes are partially in his head, but part of this is also physical — Vujacic missed a couple games in the run-up to Eurobasket with a knee injury. It was not considered serious at the time, but it may have at the least thrown off his shot, which was already plenty off.
Vujacic need a good summer to get his confidence back after a rough last season then a horrific NBA playoffs. Last season Vujacic’s shooting percentage dropped to 38.7% (from 45.4%) and his three point shooting took a big dip as well to 36%. That resulted in a little less time on the court and his points per game dropping to just 5.8. In the playoffs it got worse, he shot just 26% and Jackson cut his minutes way back. Then he missed every shot he took in the Finals.
This was not a question of effort — Vujacic hustles on the court and is one of the harder off-the-court workers the Lakers have. He stays late after virtually every practice taking extra shots, he gets in early to do more. But in his effort to round out his game, his shot mechanics faltered and soon his confidence took a nosedive.
Getting cut from the Slovenian national team can’t help that confidence.
The Lakers were able to win a title with him largely absent in the playoffs, but over the course of the long season coming up the Lakers are going to need Vujacic — him playing well means more rest for Kobe. The Lakers need the Vujacic of two years ago that earned a healthy three-year deal from the team.
Slovenia — which has four other players in the NBA from the hoops-mad little country — will get along fine without Sasha. The Lakers, however, will need him if they want another parade through downtown. And you can be sure that Ron Artest and Kobe want another parade.