Shaedon Sharpe required more in-depth scouting than the other top prospects in Thursday’s draft, but the Trail Blazers are comfortable that they made the right decision, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Because Sharpe never played after enrolling at Kentucky, general manager Joe Cronin sought game film of him in international competitions and anything else he could find. Cronin was sold on Sharpe after bringing him to Portland for a 3-on-3 workout.
“Shaedon is an incredible talent,” Cronin said. “We’re really excited about his future. It was a unique situation with Shaedon where he didn’t play college basketball. So he wasn’t seen or evaluated nearly as much as a lot of these other guys. But we were lucky enough to have we had a pretty good foundation built on Shaedon through our past viewings, specifically some of the new people we hired who had seen him a little bit.”
Cronin was referring to new assistant GM Mike Schmitz, who was very familiar with Sharpe from his former role as an ESPN draft analyst. Sharpe fills a need for the Blazers, who were in the market for an athletic wing that can score, and the 19-year-old offered Portland fans a preview of what they can expect.
“I’m a dude that likes to attack the rim, draw some fouls, finish above the rim, also get my teammates involved and really just shooting the 3,” he said. “Just impacting the game.”
There’s more from Portland:
- The Blazers were torn between Sharpe and G League guard Dyson Daniels with the No. 7 pick, and Damian Lillard appears to have influenced the final decision, writes Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. Lillard was impressed by Sharpe during his two visits to Portland, and the front office made numerous calls to Kentucky staffers to check on his background.
- Lillard caused a stir on social media today when he posted a photoshopped image on Instagram of himself and Kevin Durant both wearing Trail Blazers uniforms. Rumors that Durant may be on the move have been flying since reports of a contract impasse between the Nets and Kyrie Irving.
- While the Blazers appear to be improved following the draft and this week’s trade for Jerami Grant, Cronin understands that more needs to be done to become a contender again, per Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Portland figures to have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, along with a bi-annual exception worth about $4MM, two small trade exceptions and tradeable salaries in Eric Bledsoe, Josh Hart and Justise Winslow. “What’s next is keep on the path,” Cronin said. “We’re trying to be really aggressive. We know we’re not good enough. We want to keep trying to get better. So, it’s continuing to address these needs. The draft is a big trade day, but it’s not the end-all as far as trades go.”