Portland Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe is all over NBA highlight reels after his 7-12 shooting, 14-point, dunk-filled performance against the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Over six games, with one start, Sharpe has averaged 50.0% shooting from the field and 42.9% from the three-point arc for 9.3 points in 18.5 minutes per game. His hops are otherworldly. The only things that exceed Sharpe when he soars are the hopes and expectations of Trail Blazers fans who watch him enter the stratosphere and start drooling.
It’s not hard to forecast Sharpe’s immediate future. Health permitting, he’ll continue to get steady minutes with the team. Head Coach Chauncey Billups is likely to use Sharpe every chance he gets, as star point guard Damian Lillard continues to mentor him. Sharpe will be a natural for the NBA All-Star Weekend slam dunk contest. Expect him to be invited, unless something really goes wrong. He’s an early favorite to win it, too.
With fellow draftees Paolo Banchero and Benedict Mathurin getting huge stats in big roles, the path between Sharpe and 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year is steep. He’ll likely end up in the, “Don’t forget about...” and, “In 3-4 years he may be...” category.
The demands on Sharpe will increase going forward, of course. The Blazers spent a lottery pick on him in the 2022 NBA Draft for a reason. That does not include sitting still or bench-warming. Whether he fulfills that lottery pick promise remains to be seen, but he’ll have the opportunity.
Over the weekend, I’ve gotten several emails in the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag (email@example.com) asking how good I think Sharpe can be. This is a guessing game as much as anything. There’s no real way to tell.
That opens up opportunity for all of us to share our guesses, however. So let’s spend our Sunday doing just that.
I’m going to lay out a scale of potential outcomes for Sharpe. Read it, then let us know in the comment section where you think he’ll fall, based on your hopes and what you’ve seen so far. Go ahead and take a risk! We don’t care about strict accuracy as much as taking the temperature of Blazers Nation at this point. It’ll make a good historic document to look back on in a decade if nothing else.
Potential Outcomes for Shaedon Sharpe
Where on the following scale do you think Sharpe will fall when all is said and done?
Bench Player—Could be a strong contributor but doesn’t crack the starting lineup for a significant portion of his career.
Average Starter—Starts most of is career but is primarily a complementary option rather than the go-to player.
Star—Scores big and becomes a focal point for the team, but doesn’t quite crack that league-wide recognition level. Valued more in Portland than elsewhere. Might make an All-Star team once in a good year, but not consistently.
NBA All-Star—Strings together multiple great seasons and becomes a multi-time participant in the All-Star game.
All-NBA Player—Ranks among the best players in the league at his position. Shows enough consistency and production to earn league-wide awards.
Generational Superstar—Defines the era in which he plays for the franchise, and at least in a small way for the conference and league. Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, and Lillard are the only three Trail Blazers players who have qualified for this level.
The comment section is open.