On this Thanksgiving Saturday, as you’re scrambling between Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers—cha-ching!—we’re going to throw some short questions at you from the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag. Usually we spend 1500 words on your Portland Trail Blazers questions, but some queries can be answered more simply, or can’t be answered definitively at all. They’re asked nevertheless, so let’s get some of them in front of you while we have a short schedule break today.
Everybody I’m hearing says Shaedon Sharpe is a future superstar. I just want to know if you see it too? I haven’t heard you talk much about him.
Fair enough. Sharpe is a rookie, and I don’t like to make big pronouncements about rookies until we’ve seen a whole lot of them. Sometimes Sharpe is scoring a point a minute for Portland, other times he’s a non-factor. That’s not unusual. The more we make of either, the more we’re speaking about our own biases and expectations rather than Sharpe.
That said, a couple of things make Sharpe different than you’re average first-year player. Starting out with a circular argument, the buzz you hear indicates that we should at least look harder than usual at him. Normal rookies, even the good ones, generate enough smoke to make you wonder how many candles are on the birthday cake. Sharpe has people stop-drop-and-rolling 17 games into the season.
I’m not quite as far on board with the cause of the buzz, though. Everyone hypes Sharpe’s athleticism. It’s a big deal, granted. But lots of rookies could claim that.
I’m more agog about Sharpe’s shooting percentages. He’s firing 50% overall, over 41% from the three-point arc. That doesn’t happen often with rookies. Even highly-touted scorers usually have trouble with shot selection and timing. They have the talent to produce buckets, but not the filter to do it efficiently. Somehow Sharpe has skipped over that whole “blind offense” phase and is already putting the ball in the hole like a veteran. And that’s even with moments of questionable judgment factored in. He knows, already, where to find shots and seams. That’s huge.
Now add in the athleticism. And the fact that he was billed as a good defender even more than a great offensive player. And the intangible “it” quality that has everybody sitting up and taking notice when he steps onto the floor.
Ok, now you’ve got plenty of reasons to watch this guy, and a few reasons to speculate that maybe—just maybe—he could be special.
Nothing is guaranteed until proven, of course. Sharpe isn’t even the best rookie in his class, let alone a transcendent superstar. The only way to get from here to there is to watch him every game as he develops and note the ways in which his career path deviates from norm. That’s exactly what we should be doing at this point. All the buzz around him indicates that he’s a good candidate to watch. That part, at least, is very real.
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