Portland Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe got the first start of his NBA career on Friday against the Houston Rockets, with franchise face Damian Lillard (calf) sitting out. It was, unsurprisingly, a night of consistent scoring and highlight plays for the 19-year-old.
Sharpe shot 7-12 from the field, including two monster back-to-back dunks that got the Moda Center crowd on its feet. Watch full highlight, here.
Center Drew Eubanks was among those asked about Sharpe’s performance after the game. He had nothing but excellent things to say (H/T: Jason Quick, The Athletic).
“This is year five for me, and I haven’t seen anybody like him where he jumps and just floats,” Eubanks said. “It looks like he jumps and has time to think about what he does, or how he is going to dunk it. This guy is super talented, he’s young, he gets it, he wants it … he’s the full package.”
“I heard Dame say it earlier this year, he was saying like, Shaedon is the type of talent that could take us over the edge of being a fringe playoff team into a full-blown playoff team fighting for a championship,” Eubanks said. “When he said that, I was like, ‘Damn, I’m gonna kind of take that with a grain of salt.’ Because I hadn’t seen Shaedon play … but after watching him play these first six games, and in preseason, I’m like, he’s super talented. He has the world at his fingertips. I believe what Dame said now, for sure.”
Sharpe is likely to continue starting in Lillard’s stead until he has recovered from his calf strain. Lillard was initially set to be reevaluated in 1-2 weeks. And now, with wing Josh Hart in the NBA’s concussion protocol, there will be even more need for Sharpe’s athleticism on the court.
This could be the start of big things for the rookie, who could indeed be the difference between the Trail Blazers being a fringe playoff team and a full-blown playoff team, as Lillard suggests. If the Trail Blazers, now 5-1, continue winning, there is good reason to hope.