Portland Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe may be a long-term project for the team, but the reason why the team selected him No. 7 overall came with his incredible high ceiling.
Continuing a summer tradition of “way-too-early,” albeit entertaining, predictions, Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated has ranked his most likely candidates to win the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year award. Names like Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic and Keegan Murray of the Sacramento Kings grace the favorites, but Portland’s own Shaedon Sharpe received an honorable mention as a (semi)plausible long shot.
In order for that “semi” qualifier to melt away, here is what needs to happen according to Shapiro:
1. The Blazers reach the playoffs, ideally as a non-play-in team
2. Sharpe logs near a full season (65-plus games)
3. Sharpe finishes near the top of the rookie scoring leaderboard
Now, Sharpe’s ability to transition to an NBA schedule after not playing college ball could spoil point No. 2. And uncertainty in Portland could feasibly undercut point No. 1. However, Shapiro remains positive on Sharpe as a prospect overall.
My confidence in any of these might actually go in reverse order. Sharpe sports the offensive profile of a potential impact scorer, pairing a sweet shooting stroke with athletic gifts perhaps unmatched by his fellow lottery rookies. There’s a chance Sharpe makes a quick impact as a scorer, joining Anfernee Simons as another intriguing piece alongside Damian Lillard.
It is presently unclear how large of a role Sharpe will enjoy in Portland this season. If Sharpe excels early, he could see himself take on enough responsibility to get him in the Rookie of the Year conversation. But he is listed as a long shot for a reason. The Trail Blazers run deep at the wing, and we have yet to see Sharpe play meaningful minutes since a handful of games in the Canadian Elite Youth Basketball League.
Still, the idea of Sharpe showing us why he was the No. 7 pick right out of the gate is tantalizing.
Read about other favorites, as well as who Shapiro considers to be the best value on the board, in his full article here.