This can be very straightforward to fall for Shaedon Sharpe. Simply watch three minutes of him dunking, or 5 minutes of good footwork, or a couple of minutes of Sharpe cashing side-step three-pointers, and also you’ll be capable of write off the 4 or so minutes of video wherein Sharpe will get misplaced to easy actions on protection. It is possible for you to to string collectively outrageous combos of comparative adjectives (taller, stronger, extra explosive) and correct nouns (respectively, Jalen Inexperienced, Zach LaVine, Bradley Beal), and in case you are a fan of a sadsack group whose NBA Finals are occurring this week as an alternative of final week, you might need some type of the thought, My group wants Shaedon Sharpe. Then you’ll go searching for extra highlights on YouTube and uncover that these dazzling jiffy you simply watched are all that exist. That is the crux of the Shaedon Sharpe quantum uncertainty downside: He’s an extremely tantalizing top-level basketball prospect who has additionally barely performed any top-level basketball. Some group within the lottery goes to take an enormous swing on Sharpe in Thursday’s draft, utilizing a really excessive choose on maybe the least examined elite prospect in current NBA reminiscence.
Whereas gamers with restricted tape like James Wiseman (who performed in simply three school video games) and Kyrie Irving (11) have been chosen early on within the draft earlier than, they at the least provided one thing to guage them on and likewise had a wealth of pre-college basketball tape to ascertain their bona fides. It’s tough to discover a prospect with a file as lavishly naked as Sharpe’s. The Canadian wing didn’t obtain a single school scholarship supply two years in the past, and he first introduced himself as a prospect on the 2019 FIBA Underneath-16 Americas Championship, averaging 13 factors and acquitting himself nicely within the closing in opposition to a USA squad that includes three 2022 lottery picks. Sharpe transferred to a highschool in Kansas for a sophomore season spent totally on the bench, then moved once more to a different highschool in Arizona for his junior yr. The scholarship provides began to come back in rapidly at that time, although his inventory as a recruit actually popped when he confirmed out on the 2021 Nike EYBL circuit. Sharpe racked up large numbers in his 12 video games in opposition to a slate of 2022 and 2023 lottery picks, which earned him the standing because the top-ranked 2023 recruit.
As an alternative of ready, Sharpe enrolled early at Kentucky. He by no means performed a single recreation for the Wildcats. Sharpe was eligible to swimsuit up for Kentucky final season after arriving in Lexington in January, although as John Calipari repeatedly careworn over the course of Sharpe’s mysterious three months with Kentucky, Sharpe’s plan was not to play. There’s been quite a lot of confusion over Sharpe’s season-long absence from the group—Was he actually eligible? Was Calipari merely holding him out? Was he nursing some secret damage?—however Sharpe confirmed this week that he selected to not play. Provided that he was coasting into the draft lottery regardless of not having to show himself on the school stage, he determined that risking his perch as a positive top-ten choose wasn’t value it. And so this locked-in lottery choose merely sat on the bench as Kentucky misplaced to Saint Peter’s after which declared for the draft one month later.
You may in all probability see why that alternative of self-preservation over the possibility to maneuver up within the draft by displaying out in opposition to school competitors scares the hell out of NBA GMs. Michael Porter Jr. (three school video games) and Wiseman and Kyrie had restricted monitor data in opposition to college-level gamers; Sharpe has zero. He actually did dominate the EYBL circuit, which regardless of the excessive stage of expertise, is a essentially completely different aggressive framework. AAU basketball is a showcase, with the very best recruits making an attempt to rack up numbers and justify their standing. SEC and NCAA Match video games are, nicely, video games; successful and shedding is the prime issue. Selecting Sharpe is actually a wager that behind all that shiny bodily expertise and his glimmers as a extremely expert on-ball participant is an precise gem of a participant. How valuable a gem it is perhaps, and the way a lot sharpening it’d require, is the query. On this sense, the opportunity of choosing Sharpe is each unusually scary and unusually engaging. The stuff Sharpe has proven has been electrical, however there’s additionally a lot that he has not proven, and that just about nobody has even seen.
By way of what we all know, Sharpe stands 6-foot-6, weighs greater than 200 kilos, and might leap with any participant in any fitness center on this planet. He’s gobsmackingly athletic for somebody that large, and when he will get to the rim, he’s a really gifted finisher with each arms. More often than not, he simply jammed it on the highschool gamers making an attempt to protect him, however he has actual craft within the lane. Sharpe’s athleticism is not only twitchy first-step stuff, both; he’s nicely coordinated and shows elite footwork out on the perimeter. Wings this athletic who can fill it up from three-point vary are crucial gamers within the NBA in the intervening time, and the mannequin for a number-one possibility on an ideal group remains to be a three-level scorer with the bodily instruments to punish switches. That is exactly the kind of participant Sharpe appears like.
He isn’t a pure playmaker, although he can throw a number of good passes on easy reads. He’s additionally not a lot of a defender, and groups must seek the advice of the scant tape and scry whether or not that deficiency is a contest factor or a Sharpe-specific one. He additionally might need the very best vertical leap in NBA historical past (49 inches), although, as a result of that is Shaedon Sharpe, all we’ve to go on is a grainy Twitter video. Like I mentioned, it’s straightforward to fall for him. Why choose, say, a reliable, identified 22-year-old like Keegan Murray when you possibly can go all-in on a dynamo like Sharpe who has the bodily instruments to be an apex-level wing destroyer?
It’s not a rhetorical query. The rationale why not is as a result of doing so presents an unlimited danger. If a GM swings for Sharpe too early and he performs in opposition to NBA gamers and instantly reveals that he doesn’t know the place to face or how you can use his athleticism to do something apart from jam in transition, that GM goes to get fired. Say what you need about bodily instruments, the graveyard of busts is plagued by gamers who couldn’t discover methods to meaningfully channel jaw-dropping athleticism. A Loch Ness-ass 49-inch vertical leap doesn’t by itself make a participant Zach LaVine; it barely made Stromile Swift, as an illustration, a helpful NBA participant. Sharpe has been understanding for groups everywhere in the lottery, groups which have a vested curiosity in telling Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer that he was dangerous at these exercises after which telling the Athletic’s Shams Charania that he was good at these exercises. There’s simply no incentive in dispelling any of the thriller, for any group fascinated about choosing him. Sharpe, for his half, has navigated these uncharted waters fairly deftly, realizing that he ensures himself a excessive spot within the draft by limiting his precise on-court time. It’s honest to be skeptical of such a transfer. I don’t actually assume you can also make a compelling argument that doing so shows a regarding lack of aggressive fireplace, however selecting to not play and as an alternative providing nothing however theoretical instruments does inescapably appear to be a means of getting out having to show something in a five-on-five setting.
“This child, we’ve nothing however YouTube video to go on,” a Western Convention exec instructed the Athletic. “I feel you’re simply taking an absolute swing. And also you (should) have possession utterly behind you in that swing, in addition to your head coach and that employees. You gotta be affected person, and also you higher have a plan, and all people’s on board.” Portland is reportedly excessive on Sharpe after Damian Lillard watched him work out, and every bit of draft intel factors to Sharpe coming off the board someplace between 4 and 10. Somebody goes to plant their flag and take him, and the diploma to which Sharpe hits could rely, as ever, on the kind of group that takes him and what he’s requested to do. Essentially the most intriguing spot, in that sense, could be San Antonio at 9, though I feel he’ll be passed by then. At any price, the fog shrouding Shaedon Sharpe is burning off. After a yr of solely current in concept, Sharpe is quickly going to should show he can really play basketball, so I suppose all he ought to hope for now could be that the Sacramento Kings don’t choose him with the fourth choose.