The Portland Trail Blazers’ forgettable 2021-22 season is in the books and it is time to turn our attention to the 2022 NBA Draft. Unlike recent years, Portland possess multiple picks in this year’s process. After finishing the regular season with a 27-55 record, the Blazers enter the lottery draw with the sixth-best odds in the NBA. Buoyed by those odds, the Blazers are poised to exit the draft with the rights to a marquee prospect.
Kentucky commit Shaedon Sharpe is the subject of today’s profile. Sharpe committed to Kentucky, but did not play for the Wildcats last season. After a breakout performance in the 2021 EYBL circuit, Sharpe ascended to the top of the recruiting charts in a few short months.
- Height: 6’6”
- WT: 200
- Wingspan: 7’0”
- Shooting Hand: Right
- Position: SG
- Age: 18
- Projected draft range: 5-8
*12 Games on the 2021 EYBL Circuit
- PTS: 22.6
- AST: 2.7
- STL: 0.8
- FG%: 47.9
- 3P%: 36.4
- FT%: 63.5
Sharpe burst into the spotlight with his multi-faceted offensive game in the 2021 EYBL sessions. On the perimeter, Sharpe has the framework and athleticism of a modern first option. He creates space with ease off the dribble and around screens. Sharpe has a smooth, rise-and-fire shot form from beyond the arc. His mechanics should allow him to create for himself from all three levels once he develops. Inside the arc, Sharpe is an excellent finisher. He can complete highlight-worthy dunks and shield the ball from defenders with nifty layups.
As a ball handler, Sharpe is comfortable operating as the first option. He plays with his head up and he can sense when the defense collapses around him. Defensively, Sharpe has an excellent frame. His 7-foot wingspan should translate to positional versatility in the NBA.
Sharpe is about to undertake a massive leap in competition. He rocketed up recruiting rankings thanks to stellar performances in a relatively small sample of games. His prep career was altered by the COVID-19 pandemic and he sat out last season after committing to Kentucky.
When he last played in live competition, Sharpe benefited from playing against loosely-assembled defenses. He was too often given space on the perimeter and he torched opponents with uncovered baseline cuts to the rim. Sharpe’s efficiency could suffer against opponents that play off-ball defense.
At this point, without behind-the-scenes workout access, it is tough to put too much weight on Sharpe’s strengths and weaknesses.
Sharpe did not participate in games with Kentucky last season.
Sharpe has the frame and ball skills to blossom into a dominant force at the NBA level. He could also flame out against tougher competition at the next level. When you consider those two potential outcomes, it is clear that Sharpe has a chasm between his floor and ceiling.
Sharpe’s gap in competition isn’t unheard of. In the 2019 NBA Draft, Darius Bazley was selected at No. 23 in the first round. Bazley did not compete in games between his final prep season and his first NBA campaign. In regards to Sharpe, his journey is slightly different. Sharpe participated in training and practices with the Wildcats this year.
If the Blazers believe that Sharpe’s talents will translate to the NBA, he should be considered the highest upside player available outside of the top three selections. Portland gambled on Anfernee Simons’ potential, at a much later position, in the 2018 NBA Draft. That bet has paid off the Blazers. If retained, Simons is set to enter the 2022-23 season as a starter alongside Damian Lillard. Sharpe could follow a similar path.
In terms of timeline, it is unclear how fast Sharpe will adapt to NBA-level competition. Given that unknown, Sharpe is probably better suited for a long-term return. If Sharpe is the pick in the lottery, the Blazers could shift their focus to high-floor players for the selection in the early portion of the second round.