Trail Blazers Bank on Upside with Sharpe Selection

The Trail Blazers selected Kentucky commit Shaedon Sharpe with the No. 7 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Sharpe, who did not play in a game with Kentucky last season, is one of the biggest mysteries selected in the lottery in recent memory. Despite that uncertainty, Sharpe is regarded as one of the most gifted athletes in the entire 2022 draft class.

If you are looking for a traditional scouting report, I featured Sharpe in a pre-draft profile back in April. Given Sharpe’s extremely small sample size of game action, I am unable to expand on that analysis. Instead, let’s look at what has been said about Sharpe by a pair of draft experts.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony detailed Sharpe’s performance at his pro day last month. According to Givony, talent evaluators struggled to form a consensus on Sharpe’s upside after that showing.

The feedback from the workout was varied. Several teams in the top 10 said they were blown away by Sharpe’s overall talent level, while others said they were hoping to see other parts of his game, namely his first step and spot-up shooting ability, as they still don’t know enough about him to make an accurate evaluation for how his career might look. Teams in Sharpe’s range will get a closer look at him in the coming weeks in private workouts, which should provide more clarity on exactly how ready he is to help an NBA team and where he can expect to hear his name called on draft night.

Back in February, prior to joining the Blazers, Mike Schimtz paired with Givony to detail Sharpe’s NBA potential in a feature for ESPN. It was clear that both Schimtz and Givony were believers in Sharpe’s talent.

Sharpe’s size, frame, explosiveness, dynamic shot-making and overall scoring instincts make him one of the most talented wing prospects in this draft class, as he possesses everything NBA teams look for at his position, with considerable star power to grow into over the long term. There’s a reason he was considered the consensus No. 1 player in his high school class before electing to reclassify and enroll early at Kentucky. In the past 15 years, no. 1 Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI) recruit has ever been drafted outside the top 10, with most being picked from the top three. Nothing about Sharpe suggests his case should be any different. NBA teams view him as a sure-fire lottery pick, and potentially even a top-five pick depending on how the rest of this class evolves over the next four months.

Following the pick, SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell explained that Sharpe is a high upside player that features plenty of unknowns and a penchant for taking contested shots.

Sharpe is the mystery man of this class after enrolling at Kentucky midseason as next year’s No. 1 and deciding not to play. He has a great frame for a shooting guard at nearly 6’6 with a 7-foot wingspan. He has ridiculous leaping ability, and can make plays way above the rim. He also has soft touch from three-point range. What else does Sharpe do? Who knows. His NBA debut will mark a full year since his most recent game. There will be major questions about Sharpe’s feel for the game, how he translates defensively, and what kind of passer he is. It sure seemed like he settled for tough shots too often against the high school level, even if those shots often went in. Still, we’re giving this pick a high grade because of Sharpe’s tools. With the right amount of patience and development, Sharpe can eventually be a really good player who does things you can’t teach. This is a nice upside swing by the Blazers even if it’s a risky pick.

Based on pre-draft rankings, it certainly appears that the Blazers selected the best player available at No. 7. Both Sharpe and Dyson Daniels worked out in Portland in the lead up to the draft. In the end, the Blazers decided to roll the dice on Sharpe.

With Sharpe in the fold, Summer League will be must-watch television. Hopefully, those outings will provide a glimpse of Sharpe’s upside and potential timeline moving forward.

Hidden Value in the Second Round

After trading the No. 46 pick to the Nuggets for a 2024 second-round pick, the Blazers added to their draft haul by selecting Colorado forward Jabari Walker. Walker, son of 10-year NBA veteran Samaki Walker, filled the stat sheet during his time in the Pac-12.

Walker is listed at 6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan after measuring at last month’s combine. He put that frame to use inside the arc during his second year in college. Walker is an elite rebounder on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor. According to KenPom’s ratingsWalker’s defensive rebounding percentage finished at No. 11 in the country.

Along with his work on the boards, Walker averaged 14.6 points per game on 46.1 percent shooting from the field. Walker is a serviceable floor spacer with a soft touch that indicates that he could make gains in this area at the next level. Last season, he connected on 34.6 percent of his three-point attempts last season. Buoyed by that production, Walker earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 First Team as a sophomore.

Moving forward, Walker is an interesting two-way forward project that possesses clear skills that translate to the NBA.

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