With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Portland Trail Blazers must decide whether to hold ‘em or fold ‘em.
At 21-22, the Blazers currently sit in 9th place in the Western Conference. A pair of wins against the Dallas Mavericks over the weekend, put them back in the playoff picture in the extremely tight standings. However, the team can’t get too comfortable with just 0.5-game separating it from teams outside the playoff picture.
The Blazers were one of the loudest teams at the trade deadline last season, sending CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans and Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers. Portland has done everything in its power to try and salvage a contending team around Damian Lillard, which leaves the door open for another potential blockbuster trade.
Bleacher Report identified each team’s best blockbuster trade asset and chose rookie Shaedon Sharpe, with Anfernee Simons a close second.
Anfernee Simons came oh-so-close to populating this space. His blend of off-the-dribble shot-making, spot-up snipery, leveled-up ball movement and detonative athleticism is anomalous for a guard, and at only 23, he retains that prospect-age sheen.
Teams flirting with a rebuild don’t always target players into their second contract. But Simons’ four-year, $100 million deal suddenly looks dirt cheap.
Shaedon Sharpe gets the go-ahead anyway.
It’d be easier to slot him behind Simons on the asset scale if 1) the Portland Trail Blazers weren’t more likely to prioritize keeping Simons as part of any win-now home-run swing and 2) Sharpe didn’t already look so damn good.
Human bounce houses that defy and disprove gravity are always polarizing. But Sharpe already looks like much more than his put-back yams and vicious throwdowns. He is a fairly intuitive cutter, has dropped in 46-plus percent of his catch-and-shoot triples (albeit on modest volume) and semi-routinely shows the bandwidth to knock down difficult jumpers. His 46.2 percent clip on pull-up twos deserves more attention.
A prospective seller like the Toronto Raptors, angling for a quick turnaround, should have more interest in Simons. Overall, though, Sharpe is the more conventional blockbuster prospect—a 19-year-old barely into his rookie-scale deal who oozes could-be-anything possibility.
This doesn’t mean Sharpe will be dealt, nor are we insinuating this could, would or should happen. However, if the Blazers are looking to take a big swing, the opposing team would likely ask for Sharpe in a return package.
As a rookie, Sharpe has already flashed his upside, averaging 7.5 points while playing nearly 20 minutes per game. As he grows more comfortable with the NBA game, Sharpe will see those numbers rise.
The Blazers clearly like Sharpe, having chosen to take him in the draft instead of trading the pick when they had the chance to. He’s certainly someone Portland has in its long-term plans, but if the right blockbuster deal comes along, it could come at a heavy price.