Detroit Pistons GM Troy Weaver said his front office would be ready come draft night. After moving down two spots in the draft lottery, the Pistons hold the fifth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
The team’s fall likely means they are out of the running for one of the three big men who headline this draft class. Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith and Duke’s Paolo Banchero are all projected to go somewhere in the first four picks of the draft.
Weaver and the Pistons still have talented options available at the fifth pick. Purdue guard Jaden Ivey is the most electrifying prospect in the class. Keegan Murray and Bennedict Mathurin are both NBA-ready players.
The Pistons could go the safe route and take either Murray or Mathurin, or the team could take a swing on upside with Ivey. Shaedon Sharpe is another high upside prospect on Detroit’s radar.
Sharpe has the prototypical build of a modern NBA wing. He stands at 6-5, 198 pounds with a nearly 7-foot wingspan. He has above-average athleticism and dominated at the high school level.
Sharpe is the enigma of the 2022 draft. The 18-year-old has a limited body of work, and by that I mean he has literally no college tape. Despite committing to Kentucky back in September and enrolling for the spring semester, Sharpe did not play a single minute for the Wildcats. Any and all tape on the prospect is from his time playing in high school.
Sharpe is a mystery waiting to be uncovered. He could be something special. He could not. I am not sure he is worth the risk.
Shaedon Sharpe is a good scorer
Sharpe is a pretty natural scorer, especially around the basket. He is a very vertical athlete which makes him a lob threat both in transition and off of cuts to the rim. As an off-ball player, he showed good movement and footwork. He has great potential as a catch-and-shoot threat as well.
With the ball in his hands, Sharpe is able to score from all three levels. He has good body control combined with a soft touch around the rim. He is able to finish from multiple different launch angles. When he gets a head of steam he is a threat to put opposing defenders on a poster.
From mid-range and beyond the arc, Sharpe possesses solid footwork and balance. He has good range on his shots as well. He uses sidesteps and stepbacks to create separation from his defenders. The 18-year-old has even shown some ability to sink shots with the defense in his face.
Where Shaedon Sharpe needs to improve on offense
Sharpe has shown basic abilities as a playmaker. He often makes the correct reads in transition, out of the pick-and-roll and off his drives. Sharpe made the easy passes. He found the trailer, he found the roller and he found a kick-out to the corner. The right read, but also a simple one. As he develops, it will be interesting to see if Sharpe is able to connect on more difficult passes and make harder reads.
For as springy an athlete as Sharpe is, he does not have the explosiveness to blow by defenders on a consistent basis. The 18-year-old does not possess a great first step on offense. Quicker defenders are able to cut off his driving lane. He is going to need to improve his first step and ability to turn the corner on defenders if he is going to successfully attack the basket at the NBA level.
Sharpe’s handle needs to improve as well. It is not the tightest handle, which makes him susceptible to being pickpocketed by defenders. He loses control of the ball at times which leads to even more turnovers. Improving his handle will not only help him cut down on turnovers, but it will also help him sell his moves much better.
Defense is not Sharpe’s thing
On the defensive end of the court, Sharpe was more often than not a liability. He lacked awareness and discipline both on and off the ball. His subpar lateral quickness made it hard for him to stay in front of drivers and cutters. He was often not engaged defensively either. But worst of all is that he never seemed to try.
Often, the moment a ball-handler made a move, Sharpe’s feet stopped moving and he let his man blow right past him. If his mark created an inch of separation by themselves, Sharpe responded by giving up an extra few feet himself. It is painful to watch Sharpe on the defensive end at times.
That is not to say Sharpe never had his moments. At times, he flashed good things as a help-side shot blocker. There are multiple games where Sharpe got good positioning and blocked opponents’ shots. But these moments were the exception, not the standard.
Sharpe has the tools to be a solid defender at the NBA level. He has length and he has size. Improving his footwork on defense would go a long way toward helping him stay in front of opposing players. However, the effort is rarely there, and there are legitimate questions about whether it will ever be there at the next level.
The allure of mystery
Sharpe was a mystery before entering the draft, and it appears he will continue to be one beyond draft night. At the NBA Scouting Combine, Sharpe held a private workout where he performed in one-on-zero drills for NBA scouts. He did not participate in the event’s scrimmage.
It appears some scouts are becoming frustrated with Sharpe’s persistence in remaining a mystery. John Hollinger and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic reported that evaluators found little substance in Sharpe’s workout.
“A lot of what came through from sources was that absolutely nothing was done at game speed, with most of the drills in terms of his handle being executed more slowly than what he’ll face on an NBA court. He didn’t do anything complex for a player who few have actually seen at high-level game speed much.”
-John Hollinger and Sam Vecenie on Shaedon Sharpe
Whether it is Sharpe himself or someone advising him, the prospect’s camp seems to believe the mystery label is the best way to keep his draft stock high. If that is not a big ol’ red flag, I do not know what is.
Shaedon Sharpe has the upside, but…
It is not just that there is limited tape on Sharpe that makes me wary of him as a prospect. It is that he is doing little to answer the questions scouts have about him as a prospect during the draft process. Ivey has plenty of questions going into the draft, but he also has two years of college tape that show consistent improvement as a player. Sharpe has tape from high school in leagues where playing defense was probably not on the list of priorities for the players competing.
It just seems like since leaving high school, Sharpe has taken every step possible to not play and showcase his talent, and that worries me.
Sharpe has the build, the athleticism and the upside. He could very well become an All-Star level player one day. He has that kind of talent. However, the potential for him to wind up a bust is also there. There are concerns about his game, and so far he has done little to dissuade that.
Sharpe is a shiny prospect, but that does not mean that the team that drafts him will strike gold.
(Featured Image Credit: Matt Stone/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK)