Running with a seven-man rotation as injuries pile up, the Portland Trail Blazers fell to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, 120-80. There were very few bright spots in the outing. In fact, perhaps just one.
Rookie guard Shaedon Sharpe scored 30 points, setting another career high, while being asked to facilitate Portland’s offense in the absence of other playmakers. It wasn’t the prettiest 30 and it wasn’t the prettiest passing, but playing 45 minutes against a superior squad will do that to you.
After the game, Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups was asked about Sharpe’s contributions. This is what he had to say.
It’s just a lot for him to ask him to play-make and understand how to read pick-and-rolls and they get blitzed and it’s just a lot to ask of him. His passing needs to be a ton better. You know, his pocket passes, over the top, I mean, just, it looks like a rookie right now because it is. But it’s one thing at a time. The other parts of it is beautiful. He’s scoring the ball, he’s attacking the basket, when he’s getting downhill he’s able to kind of – the process of seeing where guys are coming from, he’s doing pretty good with that, making that pass. So yeah, like, he’s doing good, man. He’s doing really good. He’s seeing so many new things every single night. And, as far as that’s concerned, he’s kicking butt. But these are all just different levels and different dimensions that he hasn’t seen yet and he’s seeing them for the first time, so he’s doing good, man. He’s doing really good.
This game marked Sharpe’s fifth consecutive start as the Trail Blazers tank to end the season. He has scored at least 24 points in four of those five outings.
But he’s going to need some help from his teammates if this final stretch is going to be anything but ugly. Last night, Sharpe shot 6-of-13 from three while the rest of the Trail Blazers shot a combined 3-of-26 (11.5 percent). That is certainly a recipe for losing that the Trail Blazers need right now but it’s several ingredients short of morale sustenance.
Until the team is healthier, we’ll likely continue to see Sharpe in a facilitating role moving forward. The more angles he sees of NBA defensive pressure the better as he faces opportunity for rapid growth.