He averaged 9 pts on 45% shooting (44% from 3 hitting 1.6 3s a game) all in 18 minutes a game in the 07-08 season. During the playoffs, he did about the same averaging 8 points in 21 minutes on about 40% shooting (He even earned himself an above average nickname: The Machine). Highlighted by his 20 point game in LA's first win against Boston in game 3 where he was the only Laker not named Kobe to score in double figures. Lowlighted by his horrid, atrocious defense against Ray Allen in game 4 (Lakers down 3, after giving up a crazy lead... ugh, just watch).
Side note - do not place the blame on Pau Gasol at all. Anyone who plays high school, college, semi pro, pro, YMCA, and/or playground basketball can tell that Sasha gave up on the play, let Ray go to his right, tried to take a wimpy swipe at the ball and got the best seat in the house for the game clinching layup. Even Paul Pierce looks like "Whoa! Yeah, Alright! That was easy!" at the :34 second mark.
Despite this terrible defensive stance, Vujacic cashed in on his numbers (a great indication of skill, right?) and signed a 3 year/$15 million deal that summer.
Fast forward to now:
"All season I haven't been getting much playing time," Vujacic said. "It's OK. Coach has his rotation. At least now I know what my role is. He said the reason we had the talk, he told me what my role is and now I understand what my role is. I was trying to find out all season long. But now I know."
What is that role?
"Well, I'm out of the rotation," Vujacic said. "If they are winning, I'm not playing. If they are losing and the team is down by 20 points, then I get few minutes."
Translation: Oooohhh!!! Now I get it! If I (1) keep playing hyperactive defense where it looks like I'm working hard to try and make up for my Finals embarrassment act in 08 (but instead I pick up cheap fouls and put my hands over my mouth so it looks like it's a missed call by the ref - 4.7 fouls per 36 minutes this season, wow!), (2) keep taking terrible shots that don't come within the offense when I'm trying to shoot my way back into playing time (41% FG, 33% 3PT, you have to watch the games though to see his bad decision shots), and (3) keep talking back to coaches who are trying to help me and the Lakers beat teams like the Thunder (when the incident occurred) and not atoning for it (hasn't played the last 3 games!), then I'll never get into the rotation and only play when we're down 20 points!
Sasha has turned into a disgruntled employee, except it's not like you and me where his boss can just fire him. He's getting $5 million this year and a little more than $5 million next year! Sasha needs to ask himself if he should swallow his pride and apologize to get his... 8 minutes a game back? That's up to him.
But maybe, Sasha's career has peaked. Started off hitting some rookie and sophomore walls, had his breakout season during a contract year, cashed in, leveled off and is on the tail end of his career? Maybe... All I know is that his defense has always been suspect. Too hyperactive, too swipe-y, too easily beaten by average and above average players (but if he's guarding Steve Novak, forget about it!). I find it ironic and amusing that his biggest flaw was on full display during game 4 of the finals in crunch time, and he still cashed in.
Slowly but surely, Sasha is turning into Smush Parker circa Summer of 2007 when the Lakers said to Smush, you are not in our future plans. I predict the same thing will happen in the summer of 2011, if the Lakers don't try to unload his expiring contract before the trade deadline during the 2010-11 season. As for this year, it's pretty evident the Laker bench is non existent and Sasha's not helping himself, or the team. He needs to hit up Smush on Twitter or something before it's too late!
(Stats from BasketballReference)