The Portland Trail Blazers took a swing in the 2022 NBA Draft. When Adam Silver introduced Shaedon Sharpe as the franchise’s man with the seventh decide, some had been happy, some had been confused, just a few had been dissatisfied whereas others had no thought what to assume.
The thriller surrounding the 19-year-old wasn’t helped when he went down with an harm inside the first six minutes of Portland’s championship Summer League marketing campaign. But casting all that apart, what if, Sharpe really is all he’s touted to be, even perhaps matching the hype in his first season? That’s proper, we’re leaning optimistic at Blazer’s Edge right now.
I do know there are quite a lot of skeptics on the market and that is high quality. You each proper to have your doubts, however I’m giving Joe Cronin and Mike Schmitz the advantage of the doubt.
What we find out about Shaedon Sharpe
- He’s a 6’6, 19-year-old athletic wing from London, Ontario, Canada.
- He went to Kentucky for one 12 months however did not play.
- There are a few You Tube clips exhibiting him competing towards subpar competitors.
- He was taken by the Portland Trail Blazers with the seventh decide in June.
- He performed 5 minutes of summer time league earlier than struggling a left shoulder harm.
That’s just about it.
Well then why did the Blazers take him so excessive?
Well firstly, he labored out twice for the Blazers earlier than the draft. You’d need to think about that second go to would not have occurred if the entrance workplace wasn’t a minimum of inquisitive about his athletic profile and skillset.
Oh, and there is additionally Schmitz. Widely acknowledged as considered one of the finest expertise evaluators in the enterprise, Portland’s new Assistant General Manager was poached from ESPN by the Blazers earlier than the draft. And whereas he technically did not begin with Portland till after draft evening, you’d need to think about he communicated his distinctive information on the prospect to Cronin.
Schmitz’ former ESPN colleague Jonathan Givony spoke of Sharpe earlier this 12 months, earlier than he elected to go up for the draft.
Sharpe is taken into account a possible top-five decide in the 2022 NBA draft because of his mixture of prototypical body with dynamic shot-making and explosive ending means, he recurrently comes up with highlight-reel-caliber dunks, blocks and putbacks.
The Blazers clearly had sufficient intelligence and confidence in Sharpe to take an opportunity, regardless of a laundry listing of questions.
Will he play this season?
On Draft Night, Cronin fronted Portland’s media scrum, telling Blazers fandom that Sharpe was able to play this coming season.
This was clearly earlier than he suffered the Summer League harm however from all studies, Sharpe ought to nonetheless be able to go by coaching camp. However, with a logjam of skilled names at the two guard positions, a lean 6’6, 198lb Sharpe will most likely have to search out time at small ahead behind Nassir Little. Camp and the preseason ought to mirror how prepared the younger Canadian is, however I’d enterprise a guess to counsel he will get round 10 minutes an evening, a minimum of by way of October and November.
Ultimately, there is no means the Blazers would have invested such a precious asset in Sharpe, in the event that they did not a minimum of see if he was as much as an NBA stage, as quickly as potential.
What if he is not good?
Ok, so we have now to briefly trot down this path. But final season’s tank may not have been value it if Sharpe is out of the league by the finish of his first contract. I do not care. There’s at all times an opportunity this occurs and that is the threat we have been pleading for this franchise to take for a decade. If he is not an NBA participant, I’m comfortable to maneuver on and acknowledge the incontrovertible fact that they, a minimum of, tried to lift the ceiling on a crew left stale for a lot too lengthy.
What if he is actually good?
This is the enjoyable half.
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting Sharpe goes to be the “Baby Kobe” coined by the Jacked Ramsays’ Brandon Sprague. But if he is in a position to comparatively rapidly present innate means on each side of the ball, it raises some thrilling potentialities about what this crew could possibly be from, say, the starting of the 2023-24 season. In no means do I see him beginning this season, but when he can slot in as Little’s main again up, working seamlessly subsequent to Josh Hart, Gary Payton II, Trendon Watford and Justise Winslow off the bench, the Blazers would possibly even have one thing.
If all goes to plan, you’d hope he’d be taking part in in the realm of 16 to 17 minutes an evening come March and April, averaging a minimum of 10 factors, 3 rebounds and three assists whereas providing stout, dependable protection.
What does this imply for the future make up of this crew?
OK, so huge image. If Sharpe solidifies himself as a starting-level participant (not essentially a starter) by the finish of season one, Cronin has choices. Hear me out.
Let’s say Sharpe in a short time reveals to be in the early levels of changing into the two-way backcourt accomplice we have been eager to pair with Lillard since Wes Matthews tore his Achilles and left for Dallas.
I like Anfernee Simons and I’m excited to see what he is in a position to do that season with a much bigger function and much more touches. But I, like many different basketball watchers, have my doubts about his defensive ceiling. I actually hope he proves me improper.
But if Simons enjoys one other rise in manufacturing this season, doubtlessly getting into the All Star choice dialogue, he hikes his burgeoning commerce worth to the level the place he returns a critical improve at small ahead.
Now, if they do not win the NBA Championship this coming season, the Boston Celtics may be prepared to half with Jaylen Brown as a way to snag a extra dominant Simons. Brown would possibly genuinely be sick of listening to his title in commerce rumors and by then be overtly professing he’s by no means returning to New England in 2024. Mikal Bridges is the different title that leaps to thoughts as the Phoenix Suns resolve whether or not they pay Cam Johnson in restricted free company subsequent 12 months. Simons might also be an appropriate alternative for Chris Paul, who this time subsequent 12 months, might be the ripe outdated age of 38.
In this example, the Blazers may trot out a lineup of Lillard, Sharpe, Brown/Bridges, an prolonged Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic. Assuming Lillard, nonetheless has it, that is as balanced and versatile a roster the Blazers have had since Nicolas Batum, Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge had been on the town.
It greater than makes up for Lillard’s defensive shortcomings whereas nonetheless being extremely offensively potent. You’d nonetheless have Payton II, Jabari Walker, a re-signed Little and Justise Winslow off the bench. We’re assuming Josh Hart is dealt at the deadline because it’s unlikely the Blazers have the room to afford the pay rise he’ll virtually definitely earn as his Player Option nears in 2023.
Alternatively, the rise of Sharpe is also the decider that indicators the finish of the Damian Lillard period in Portland as the youth motion takes over. Please do not damage me. Bringing again picks and promising younger expertise for Lillard to mess around a Simons, Sharpe backcourt additionally opens up fascinating potentialities. You’d have a beginning unit of Simons, Sharpe, Little, maybe Jabari Walker and a middle to be decided. Not to say the gamers gained in the haul for Lillard.
I’m not going to invest on Lillard packages, as a result of at this level it is virtually inconceivable to ascertain which groups are in play and what they’d be ready to surrender.
This is all fantasy land stuff. But now that Portland has a General Manager prepared to make the robust calls and take the huge swings, fantasy is so much nearer to actuality than it was beneath the former regime.
If Sharpe is pretty much as good as predicted — I’m speaking about somebody who has an opportunity to ultimately make an All Star sport or two — then the Blazers have a lot extra to work with. I’ve little question the NBA world can have their eyes locked on the 19-year-old from the first second he strains up for the Blazers this season, purely for the incontrovertible fact that he is been offered as a possible franchise participant with out taking part in any actual basketball of consequence.
I’ve obtained my fingers crossed for the teenager as a result of I’ve obtained nothing else telling me whether or not he’ll growth or bust. But one factor is obvious, Chauncey Billups has to get him on the court docket as quickly as potential in order that we will resolve a method or one other.