It takes a lot of guts to enter the NBA Draft without any game footage to show for yourself since high school. Yet this diversion from what’s traditional is consistent with everything we’ve seen from Portland Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe. At only 19 years old, the Canadian sensation displayed such promise so early into his career that teams barely hesitated to take him near the top of his class. Ultimately, Portland made him the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Although an injury kept him off the court for the Summer League, early returns have been extremely reassuring from Sharpe. His dazzling performance in game one of his young career exceeded expectations, adding 12 points on six shots in a victory over Sacramento. He was quiet in his following two games but dropped 11 in his fourth game and 15 in his fifth.
More importantly than his scoring totals, Sharpe is proving that his unique arsenal of tools can translate to the next level as part of the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s a silky finisher in the lane with exceptional body control to match. In turn, Sharpe is already showing a knack for completing buckets through contact, whether he’s embracing it or slivering through it. His fearlessness translates across the board as Sharpe won’t hesitate to pull up for triples, oftentimes using a well-timed pump fake to create better looks for himself.
Shaedon Sharpe is living up to the hype as part of the Portland Trail Blazers.
During a pre-draft interview, Sharpe was asked how to describe his game for those who hadn’t yet seen him on the court. Although it might not have seemed like it at the moment, this was a turning point in shaping his narrative. He was always considered a gamble in that the idea of his game was theoretically fantastic but the reality could become something else entirely. At least by giving him a platform to tell his own story, he’d have a chance to get out ahead of his doubters.
“I would describe my game a lot like Bradley Beal [&] Devin Booker. I mean, those are two great guys that come off pin-downs and make the right reads,” Sharpe told Shams Charania in May 2022. “It’s an unknown with me, whether that’s attacking the hoop, finishing above the rim, or creating space [&] making my own shot,” Sharpe told Shams Charania in May 2022.
As any Portland Trail Blazers fan would testify, Shaedon Sharpe is a man of his word. Although he’s not working with a ton of pin-downs right now, it’s clear that Sharpe knows how to operate in space. He’s been excellent at navigating screens on offense and using his mixture of shooting, driving and verticality to pressure defenses from everywhere on the court. As seen in his 15-point outing versus Miami, Sharpe was the recipient of several passes out to the perimeter in which he used a well-timed fake or side-step to leverage the opponent’s momentum into a better look.
For the time being, Sharpe is going to be a spark plug off the bench who can torch second units and stun his opponents with his leaping ability. It’ll surely be a spectacle for fans in attendance, but this role also offers a substantial opportunity for him to freelance until the team is ready to dedicate more of its offense through its rising talent.
Sharpe remains unproven to the masses, but he’s also no longer an unknown. Evoking the names of two All-Stars with All-NBA upside would normally draw ire from spectators everywhere, but when you watch Sharpe create offense out of thin air, it begins to make sense. Now with Damian Lillard expected to miss between one and two weeks, the Blazers will surely put the ball in his hands more often.
Expect to see Shaedon Sharpe on plenty of highlight reels throughout his promising career.