After opening the season with a three-game losing streak, the new-look Portland Trail Blazers have found a bit of a groove, on the backs of consecutive come-from-behind victories. Their most recent win, a 110-101 triumph over the Detroit Pistons — along with the play of one Shaedon Sharpe — caught the eye of ESPN NBA Senior Writer Zach Lowe.
Picking out seven likes and dislikes in his annual Friday column, Lowe took note of both Sharpe’s offensive efficiency and repertoire over the NBA’s opening week. In particular, he acknowledged one of the Blazers’ more successful offensive sets, one in which they clear out one side of the floor before setting a baseline pindown for Sharpe, forcing defenders to pick between many poisons.
The set provided ample opportunities for Sharpe against Detroit, as the second-year swingman put together a 29-point performance. Those pindowns and Zoom Offense actions have quickly become a staple in Sharpe’s game. A few examples can be found below (starting at the 0:15 mark):
Portland went to that proverbial well often, punishing Detroit based on its decision to duck and go “under” on the pindown, or if it elected to go over. As Lowe brings out, it led to three different scores over a two-minute span in the third quarter. That run proved vital; after trailing 59-47 at the half, Portland outscored Detroit in 36-25 fashion, setting the basis for their comeback win.
Lowe finished with this assessment of Sharpe:
“Sharpe has much further to go on defense, but Portland has to be thrilled with his scoring and overall calm on offense. Keep this up, and Sharpe will butt into the Most Improved Player conversation.”
As it currently stands, Sharpe is the leading scorer on the Blazers (20.2 points per game), doubling the 9.9 points per game from 2022-23. He’s also averaging 5.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks per game on 46-38-86 percentage splits.