June 29, 2022

Many hot rumors have followed the Portland Trail Blazers ahead of the 2022 NBA Draft. The Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets have the top picks, but consensus is pretty strong on the three players who will be selected there. Only the final order remains to be determined. By the time the Blazers are drafted in 7th place, the lottery table will be like the Wild West: anything goes, and who knows what will happen.

Most of the talk in Portland has been about the pick trade. With severe frontline needs and a short schedule to meet them, the Blazers should be in the market for quality, veteran help, the kind a mid-lottery pick could provide via trade. But yesterday, a new rumor emerged that Portland’s front office was leaning to keep the pick on recruiting mysterious phenom Shaedon Sharpe. A nod of approval from Damian Lillard seemed to bolster the claim, which is now the subject of today’s Blazer’s Edge Mailbag.

David,

Are the Sharpe reports real? I can’t believe the Blazers would go for him but BPA, right? Is it BPA though? Does anyone really know?

Brayden

Let’s break down the factors:

1. Do the Blazers write for themselves?

I am not convinced. Keep in mind that Sharpe’s attraction is one of many rumors surrounding the club. I don’t find it any more or less believable than the business suggestions we’ve heard before. Given Portland’s situation, I still think a trade is much more likely.

Even if they don’t have a deal in place, it’s possible the Blazers could draft Sharpe as future trade bait if they’re stuck with their own pick. He’s 18, inexperienced, has a high ceiling, and a lot of buzz surrounds him. Taking 2-3 years to develop is part of the expectation in this scenario. Unless he collapses completely, his commercial value expiration date should be longer than your average mid-lottery pick, many of whom will settle into comfortable, non-starring roles in the meantime.

They won’t choose it if they don’t see any promise, of course. But if they can see the ceiling and a path to get there. it wouldn’t be a bad high risk/high reward move. Essentially, they would define “best player available” as “highest cap and long-term value.”

2. Can Sharpe play?

All we know says Sharpe can play ball. You are not mentioned in this position unproven unless your abilities are otherworldly. He has a good size and large wingspan for a guard. He’s a real athlete. Give him a seam and he’ll get paid.

Creating seams against NBA defenders, learning spacing and defense, and dealing with the speed of pro play will all be challenges for Sharpe. My gut says he’s going to be a “hiccuped” rookie, with some performances that make ESPN amid a general struggle to adapt.

If you want a more detailed look at Sharpe, you can see Steve Dewald’s draft profile, as well as SBNation’s Ricky O’Donnell’s article on his development.

3. Is Sharpe suitable?

The Blazers could be in the right place, tactically, to absorb Sharpe’s learning curve. They will launch Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons. That doesn’t leave 30 minutes per game for a rookie to stumble. Sharpe’s minutes would be focused, his role suited to his abilities.

“Score 10 and try to learn the game” is an anemic job description for a mid-lottery starter, but it’s an exciting possibility for your offensive rookie bench guard. And who better to play behind in that regard than Lillard and Simons, two of the best offensive guards in the league? The Blazers wouldn’t have to change much for Sharpe. It’s high octane and a go-ahead all the way…perfectly suited to its capabilities.

The big question is whether the Blazers are in the right place to strategically draft Sharpe. You can insert the familiar trope about Damian Lillard turning 32 here. They need help now, not in four years. They need guaranteed production, not big risks, especially from a long distance player.

There’s also the matter of Josh Hart, who naturally plays the shooting guard role, who should absorb the minutes from the backcourt and who will provide much more comprehensive support than Sharpe can hope for at this point. One would guess that drafting and keeping Sharpe would prevent Portland from retaining Hart. He would be available for trades, but would that move streak really be superior to keeping the veteran well balanced and trading pick or rookie?

4. Does Lillard want it?

We’ll talk more about that in tomorrow’s edition of the Dave and Dia Podcast, but I find the near-electric sizzle that crossed NBA social media yesterday as Lillard and Sharpe linked up amusing.

I’m not in Lillard’s head and I’m more than willing to be corrected here.

Am I to believe Damian Lillard views Sharpe as a superb athlete with stardom potential? Yes. The game recognizes the game. Lillard also called out Donovan Mitchell in 2017. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Am I to believe that means Sharpe is the choice, even for Lillard? So less. It makes me feel like a dad walking around the mall with kids and saying, 鈥淭hat’s a nice tie. The kids pick up on the idea that dad likes ties and, voila! He gets 32 Father’s Day ties just from an offhand comment.

I don’t think Lillard would be upset if the Blazers took Sharpe, at least not for the internal qualities the rookie possesses. I guess he, like the rest of us, would also be willing to consider other alternatives. I find this alleged connection among the least compelling reasons why the Blazers would take a flyer on Sharpe on draft day.

Thanks for the question! You can send yours to [email protected] and we’ll try to reach as many as we can as the summer rolls around!

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