Portland Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe isn’t just impressing Rip City fans, he’s impressing opposing teams.
Prior to Portland’s two-game series against the Phoenix Suns this weekend (a 1-1 split), Suns head coach Monty Williams answered media questions about Sharpe — giving high praise to seventh pick in June’s NBA Draft.
Dana Scott wrote about the coach’s remarks in a recent piece for the Arizona Republic. Sharpe has a personal connection to the Arizona area, as he played high school basketball at Glendale Dream City Christian before enrolling at Kentucky. Williams said he didn’t realize the versatility in Sharpe’s game before the season started.
“I didn’t know much about him until my son started telling me about him because of high school stuff,” Williams said. ”Then you start looking at his ability to cover so much ground for an athlete, but then the first game of the year I think he had three 3s. I didn’t know he could shoot like that.
“He must have had a really good camp for Chauncey to trust a rookie in that role because they have guys on their bench that have played NBA games.”
With his length and athleticism at 6’6, Williams sees Sharpe as a player fit for the modern NBA.
But Williams has recognized Sharpe’s athleticism, his balance to stay in front of the ball on defense and playmaking ability through his timing for cutting to the hole, creating space and ball movement when his teammates are open.
“He’s a good player. They found a really good long, athletic prototype wing that fits his style to play in the NBA,” Williams added.
Williams, who began his coaching career in 2005 as an assistant in Portland, also addressed Portland head coach Chauncey Billups’ comparison of Sharpe to Blazers great Brandon Roy. He does notice one similarity between the two.
“I haven’t watched him enough to stay that, but Chauncey’s a good study,” Williams said about Billups’ Roy-Sharpe comparison. “He’s probably seen him every day. The pace, for a young guy, that’s the one thing I notice with him. You can’t speed him up. That’s what I saw with Brandon.
“I coached Brandon his rookie year in summer league and that was the first thing I noticed was no matter what the game or the speed of the game was doing, he could stay at his pace. You see a little bit of that with Shaedon.”
The article includes insight from Sharpe’s head coach at Glendale Dream City Christian, Kyle Weaver, who spoke glowingly of his former player.
“Shaedon will continue to show why he really was the steal of the draft and will continue to improve,” Dream City Christian boys basketball coach Kyle Weaver said in a text message to The Republic. “I saw him mature and grow like no other player I’ve ever coached. ...
“Everything he does is at his own pace and footwork is top tier. Once he gets more comfortable his game is going to expand even more.”
Sharpe started in the two games against the Suns this weekend, scoring 10 points in the first matchup and 13 in the second.
You can read the full piece here.