Back when the Blazers drafted Shaedon Sharpe, I was not a fan of the pick. Here’s an excerpt from a previous post about the Blazers’ number seven pick:
I felt the Blazers would not waste their pick on a player that has not played since high school and had noted maturity issues. Well, it turns out I was completely wrong. Positively speaking, Sharpe has the confidence and talent to be an NBA scorer now. His athleticism can and will create poster dunks at a whim. This certainly was not the route I thought the Blazers would go.
We have yet to see those maturity issues that hounded his pre-draft screening and let’s hope we never do. However, thanks to that athleticism mentioned before, we have seen those poster dunks, and we can see Sharpe trending toward becoming a crucial player for Portland throughout the season. Let’s break down that offensive game that Sharpe has displayed so far:
High Basketball IQ
As a perimeter player, Sharpe usually lines up in the corner of the three-point line, while Dame/Anfernee slashes down the middle with Nurk. Notice how De’Aaron Fox turns his back to Sharpe, inching up to help what he feels is a Dame layup. Sharpe notes this, notices that Fox cannot recover from his cut to the basket, and gets an easy two-handed dunk.
This play was designed isolation for Jerami Grant. Tari Eason, number 17 for the Rockets, dips down to attempt a double team on Grant. The helper on this, Jae’Sean Tate, number 8 for those who know him, is shifting to Simons to cover while the double team is attempted. Sharpe sees this and cuts down the lane while Nurk shields his man from contesting the dunk.
Three Pointers from a Slasher?
The Blazers utilize Sharpe’s above-average jumper as well, running this inbounds play for him to get off a corner three. At 6’6″, he has the height and quick release to get a shot off over Fox. While either Dame or Simons is out, his frame at the shooting guard position provides a mismatch for the weaker opposing guard on the floor. While he’s only shot 14 three-pointers so far, he’s drained six of them, good for 42.9%. Do the Blazers have a slashing guard that has a three-point shot? This could be dangerous.
Off The Dribble
Sharpe won’t be a passer for the Blazers, more of a scoring wing. As I laid out above, he’s got the ability to score from a standstill at the three-point line, and he’s got the basketball IQ to take advantage of sleeping players for thunderous dunks, but here you’ll see that ability to score off the dribble. This was another designed play for Sharpe, utilizing Nurk’s big screen to get into the corner. While I would have liked to see the pass to Winslow at the top, Sharpe noticed the lack of closeout from Tate and took that leaner. Any shot is great as long as it goes in, right?
What’s Sharpe’s Future?
As it sits now, Sharpe’s 36-minute averages have him at 18 points per game and six rebounds per game on 50% FG, 40% 3PT, and 67% free throw. After we looked at his offensive game, you can see that he can score from anywhere. Sharpe also has the innate ability to find the weaknesses in the defense on the fly, which was pointed out in his draft profile. Sharpe also has confidence, and Coach Chauncey has also given him that confidence to do nothing but score when he’s on the court. So what does the future hold for Sharpe? If I could compare him to a former Blazer, his ceiling is the beloved Brandon Roy. Coincidentally, they are the same height and have incredibly similar games. While in Roy’s time, basketball centered on a ton of iso ball, Roy and Sharpe still score with the same ease. If Sharpe can become that on-the-ball threat, rather than being passed into opportunities, we could be looking at the next big star in Portland.