The Mystique that Surrounds Shaedon Sharpe

2022 NBA Summer League - Portland Trail Blazers v Detroit Pistons
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE

At the age of 19, Shaedon Sharpe’s journey to being the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft was unorthodox and a story that continues to unfold.

Following his commitment to the University of Kentucky, a healthy Shaedon Sharpe would never suit up in his one year as a Wildcat. Interestingly enough, Sharpe expressed that the decision to not play was one he made for the betterment of himself. In a report from Sports Nation, Sharpe’s decision to not play a minute of collegiate basketball came from the belief that he would become even better by remaining in the gym and preparing for the next step.

The next step came in the form of being yet another lottery pick out of Kentucky, but this time with an undeniable question mark following the pick. It has been over a year since Sharpe played meaningful minutes in a basketball setting, dating all the way back to his senior season at Dream City Christian Academy. Once touted as the number one prospect in his respective class, Sharpe’s potential alone is one that cannot be ignored.

Sharpe averaged 21.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists with the Dream City Christian Eagles en route to solidifying himself as an established prospect for those in his class. Sharpe’s greatest asset is his raw ability to score at will. The thing that initially stands out when reviewing the film on Sharpe is his ability to elevate with ease, both with the ball in his hands and as a cutter in both the half-court setting and on the break. His athletic prowess alone makes him an intriguing prospect, but when matched with his growing skillset with the ball in his hands, it is no surprise that Sharpe was a lock to be a high-end lottery pick.

With even the highest of heights, the lowest of lows will always find their way to the forefront of everyone’s mind. The looming question or doubts that are, that surround Sharpe comes when discussing the lack of experience he has passed at the high school level. To jump from high school straight to the NBA without any true competition bridging those experiences is seemingly unheard of in this era of basketball.

Sharpe’s game does not come with many red flags, at least ones that come as a cause for concern right away. It is common to see guards at his age struggle with offensive efficiency and have defensive lapses at times so, under the assumption that the natural learning curve will come, fans should not fret.

The rookie comes into a peculiar situation, however, a situation where the room for error is incredibly small. The last nine months have seen Portland cash in on a vast majority of their assets with the departure of picks, C.J. McCollum, Robert Covington, and Norman Powell. The Blazers obviously value the youth the roster has to offer. Still, in the present day, it seems incredibly unlikely that the youth movement would trump the desire to capitalize on the prime years of their franchise cornerstone.

The question of what his place is in the rotation on a nightly basis is one that fans theoretically will wrestle with until opening night. Not knowing what to expect, it very well could come down to getting a feel every night and sliding the rookie into positions where he can execute and gain confidence one game at a time.

The best-case scenario for the Canadian-born 19-year-old is that the hype he garnered in high school is not just hype but the real deal. And while a solidified spot in the rotation may not be in the immediate future, having any and every opportunity to learn from a former NBA Champion in Chauncey Billups and perhaps a future Hall of Famer in Damian Lillard is not something many rookies will get.

Sharpe played just six minutes of Summer League basketball before being sidelined for precautionary measures with a tear in his left labrum. Sharpe’s long-awaited debut comes on October 19 on the road in Sacramento.