How risky is it to draft Shaedon Sharpe in the top-5?
In the history of the NBA draft, 45 players have been taken directly out of high school. It hasn’t always panned out for teams but if a player has talent and work ethic the rest will figure itself out. Originally from Ontario, Shaedon Sharpe was a member of the 2022 recruiting class but he reclassified and graduated early to end up at Kentucky for the start of the spring semester.
Although he didn’t play a second of college basketball he was still the #1 SG coming out of high school. There isn’t a doubt among many NBA scouts that if he played last season he would have solidified himself as a top-5 pick.
But he didn’t.
I get the concern NBA front offices may have, many GMs feel like they’re putting their job on the line by taking a gamble on a player you have no college film on. But what if he has the highest upside? In a sport where you could argue upside matters the most. There is a chance he becomes the player that many teams regret passing on simply because he didn’t suit up for the Kentucky Wildcats his freshman season. He stated his favorite player is Kobe Bryant and besides both similarly coming out of high school, the difference is Sharpe got to practice with the Wildcats but never actually played minutes in a collegiate game. Sharpe also stated that he mimics his game after Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.
Shaedon Sharpe averaged 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in the 2021 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League while leading the event in points scored and finished in the top five in 3-pointers made. He also attended the NBPA Top 100 camp, the Pangos All-American Camp, and the Nike Hoop Summit. He finished his high school career at Dream City Christian Academy in Glendale, Arizona while averaging 24.1 points and six rebounds per game as a junior.
What’s the fit with Cade Cunningham look like?
As a Pistons fan, I often imagine what an ideal backcourt would look like with a dynamic player like Cade Cunningham. Not only does Shaedon Sharpe have elite athleticism, which is something the Pistons don’t have. But he also has the potential to be an elite scorer. The difference with me is I’m willing to be patient, it’s gonna take some time to get Shaedon Sharpe acclimated to the NBA’s physicality and speed of the game. But in my opinion, the wait will pay off. It’s not easy to lead the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in points scored and finish in the top five in 3-pointers made.
If Troy Weaver wants to compliment Cade Cunningham as a playmaker, it would be beneficial to have another player on the team you can trust with the ball in clutch time or when you desperately need a basket. If the Pistons take Shaedon Sharpe it also would keep the ball in Cade Cunningham and Killian’s hands, because Shaedon doesn’t necessarily need to dominate the basketball. He has shown the ability to play off-ball successfully and even be able to spot up and hit threes. By the way, he was shooting the ball a couple of feet behind the high school three-point line comfortably at various times.
Not to mention as you watch, you’ll notice he has amazing touch around the basket and can finish with either hand. He uses his 7-foot wingspan effectively driving to the basket, making his shot hard to block at the rim or from the perimeter with his elevation. Just imagine the lob opportunities from Cade to Shaedon in transition and defensively the problems they would cause with their length in the backcourt and their ability to switch multiple positions like most modern NBA teams.
How will he fit in with the current culture?
Sharpe is 6’6 with a 6’11.5 wingspan, along with an unofficial 49-inch vertical. Michael Jordan’s official vertical was 48 inches. That’s elite-level athleticism. Not only does Troy Weaver love measurables and athleticism but he also loves the person more than the player. The interview process is going to be the biggest part of the Pistons keying in on him over guys like Keegan Murray, Ben Mathurin, and even Jaden Ivey if he’s still on the board.
But the whole point of developing any of these prospects is good coaching, and the ability to hold guys accountable. Dwane Casey has shown he can successfully develop players and help them find roles that they can strive in. I get the concerns people may have about his “motor” but that doesn’t mean he is already a finished product, he still has to mature. Not everyone can be as mature as Cade Cunningham coming out. With the right coaching and assuming he isn’t arrogant, he can grow.
Kentucky player Shaedon Sharpe warms up before the game against Mississippi State on January 25, 2022.
Kentucky Player Shaedon Sharpe
Is Shaedon Sharpe a must-draft for the Pistons?
One thing that isn’t talked about enough is how hard it’s been to sign marquee free agents to Detroit. With that being the reality, my ideology is to always take high-upside players in the NBA Draft hoping they become super-star players with Cade Cunningham already being one. Most Pistons fans don’t think they will be back in the top-5 anytime soon and if that’s the case, take a swing on potential and don’t play it safe.
There are plenty of good options at five for the Detroit Pistons. Among the players expected to be available, Pistons fans should truthfully be happy with any of the following: Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Ben Mathurin, and Shaedon Sharpe. Regardless of who they pick, the difference now is you now have a respected talent evaluator in Troy Weaver making the selection instead of Stan Van Gundy selecting Luke Kennard over Donovan Mitchell.
Although I see tremendous upside in Shaedon Sharpe and would love the Pistons to take a swing, I truthfully would be confident with any of the rumored choices. You could make a legitimate case for about five prospects to be taken fifth overall.