Sunday, July 3, 2022

2022 NBA Draft grades: Portland Trail Blazers swing big by taking Shaedon Sharpe with No. 7 overall pick

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The Portland Trail Blazers have swung for the fences in the 2022 NBA Draft by selecting Shaedon Sharpe with the No. 7 overall pick. Sharpe is this draft’s man of mystery. After spending most of his career as a relatively unheralded prospect, Sharpe bolted up the boards to earn the No. 1 ranking in his class. He ultimately chose to attend Kentucky, but never actually played for the Wildcats. That made scouting him one of the toughest challenges teams could face during this draft process, but virtually everyone was tantalized by his upside.

There is no questioning Sharpe’s upside, it is why he was considered the top prospect in his high school class prior to enrolling at Kentucky, but there are some questions about his fit in Portland which led to our CBS Sports NBA Draft experts giving the pick a grade of a B+.

This pick is interesting because it seems with the Jerami Grant trade that the Blazers are trying to get good now. And Sharpe is an interesting fit from that perspective. But few players in this class have higher ceilings than him. He’s an explosive scorer with ridiculous size for the wing and athleticism, and he could one day be a plus defender with those tools. He’s just likely not ready to do that right away after not playing last season at Kentucky. Grade: B+

Sharpe is an elite athlete, and nothing that could have happened at the college level would have proven otherwise. He has every physical tool you could ask for out of a guard, projects as a strong shooter and ball-handler and represents the sort of potential that typically gets a player taken No. 1 overall. His circumstances prevented that, but if his development goes as hoped, they might also have made him the steal of the draft. 

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The Blazers already made one big move on Wednesday when they landed Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant in a pre-draft trade. That move was the culmination of a retool that began when Joe Cronin replaced Neil Olshey as general manager and quickly tore the roster down to the studs. Gone were C.J. McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington and Larry Nance Jr. Grant, Josh Hart and others have taken their place.

It has all been in an effort to fix the problems that doomed Portland during the McCollum-Damian Lillard era. Lillard remains in place, and as long as he’s a Blazer, the team will likely remain committed to trying to put a winner around him. No rookie is going to have an easy time coming into an environment with those expectations, but Portland is making a strong bet on their preferred prospect here at No. 7.

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