Search Results for: Shaedon Sharpe

Pelicans Notes: Travel Issues, Williamson, Slump, Murphy

The inclement weather that grounded the Pistons in Dallas and forced a postponement of Wednesday’s Pistons/Wizards game is also wreaking havoc on the Pelicans, who are scheduled to play in Dallas on Thursday.

After facing the Nuggets in Denver on Tuesday, the Pelicans have been unable to fly into Dallas on Wednesday and now intend to stay another night in Denver, according to Christian Clark of (Twitter link). A source tells Clark that the Pels’ plan is to fly into Dallas on Thursday in advance of the evening game vs. the Mavericks.

According to Marc Stein (Twitter link), the Pelicans – who practiced in Denver on Wednesday – had been considering a handful of options to get to Dallas, including a “less-than-inviting” scenario that would have seen them fly into Oklahoma City today and then take a bus the rest of the way. Flying on Thursday is the best-case scenario of those options, Stein adds (via Twitter).

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • After being limited to stationary shooting and dribbling, Zion Williamson was cleared on Tuesday to begin running as part of his rehab from a right hamstring strain, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report said on TNT’s Tuesday night broadcast (Twitter video link). The Pelicans plan to reevaluate Williamson next Tuesday, but don’t want to set a timeline yet for his return to action.
  • It was a brutal month for the Pelicans, who were a half-game behind Denver for the Western Conference’s top seed when January began and now find themselves holding the last play-in spot after losing 13 of 16 games, Clark writes for The team has been without star forwards Williamson and Brandon Ingram for extended periods this winter, but doesn’t want to use that as an excuse. “No one feels sorry for us,” Larry Nance Jr. said. “That’s the reality of it. No Z, no B for an extended period of time. Threw off our rhythm a little bit. It’s hard to pick back up. After being first in the West, we have a target on our back. This schedule has been pretty unforgiving. We have to throw the first punch.”
  • Pelicans wing Trey Murphy confirmed that he has accepted an invitation to participate in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest in Salt Lake City and tells William Guillory of The Athletic that he’s looking forward to trying to make his mark on the event. “I’m pretty excited. There are definitely some high flyers I’m going against,” Murphy said of reported participants Kenyon Martin Jr., Shaedon Sharpe, and Mac McClung. “I know those guys are going to come with some great dunks. I’ve seen some of the dunks they’ve done in the past. That just makes me want to come in and do even better.”

Northwest Notes: Hyland, Gordon, Towns, Blazers

Nuggets guard Bones Hyland would be open to a trade that allows him to secure a larger role on a new team, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report stated during Tuesday night’s broadcast of the Pelicans/Nuggets game in Denver (Twitter video link).

While Haynes’ info is new, it lines up with what we’ve heard during the last week from other reporters. Jake Fischer said last Friday that “occasional clashes” between Hyland and Nuggets head coach Michael Malone were a factor in Denver’s willingness to gauge his trade market, while Marc Stein alluded this week to “tensions” about the second-year guard’s playing time.

Hyland averaged 19.0 minutes per game during his rookie season in 2021/22 and has played a similar role in year two, logging 19.5 MPG so far in ’22/23. He’s tied for seventh among Nuggets players in minutes per game, but is one of the team’s top five scorers with 12.1 PPG.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • In a conversation with Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon spoke about the importance of continuity in Denver, his experience playing alongside Nikola Jokic, and the odds of earning his first All-Star nod. “It would mean a lot to me,” Gordon said of the All-Star possibility. “I hope I make it.”
  • There’s still no set return timeline for injured Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who remains out indefinitely due to his calf injury, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said on Tuesday during a radio appearance on KFAN 100.3 (Twitter link via Dane Moore). However, the team’s “full expectation” is that Towns will return at some point this season, Connelly added.
  • After resetting their roster last season with a series of major trades, the Trail Blazers – tied for 11th in the West with a 24-26 record – seem to be back in no-man’s land, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. O’Connor considers what moves Portland can make around star point guard Damian Lillard to become a contender, arguing that center Jusuf Nurkic is a weak link and that the team should be open to the idea of moving any of Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, and Shaedon Sharpe if the return is right.

Shaedon Sharpe Intends To Participate In 2023 Dunk Contest

Trail Blazers rookie shooting guard Shaedon Sharpe is set to partake in the 2023 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, sources inform Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Sharpe has made 29 dunks thus far this season, tweets Clutch Points.

Portland selected the 6’6″ swingman out of Kentucky with the No. 7 pick in the 2022 draft. The 19-year-old has emerged as an exciting athletic addition off the bench for the Trail Blazers. Through 36 games this season, he is averaging 7.9 PPG on .477/.348/.625 shooting splits, along with 2.5 RPG, in 19.7 MPG.

All-Star Weekend will tip off on February 17 this year in Salt Lake City. The dunk contest will be one of three events during the weekend’s Saturday night slate on February 18, along with the Skills Challenge and the 3-Point Contest.

Mac McClung To Become First G League Player In Dunk Contest

The third participant confirmed to be taking part in the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest in Salt Lake City next month isn’t an NBA player, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), who reports that G League guard Mac McClung has accepted an invitation to the event.

Assuming he doesn’t get called up to the NBA within the next month or so, McClung will be the first G League player to compete in the dunk contest, according to Charania. The 24-year-old is currently playing for the Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers‘ NBAGL affiliate.

McClung does have a little NBA experience, having signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Bulls in 2021/22 and then a two-way contract with the Lakers during the final days of the regular season. The 6’2″ guard appeared in one game for each team and finished off the Lakers’ season by emphatically throwing down a double-clutch reverse dunk (YouTube video link).

The Warriors signed McClung to a training camp deal this past summer, but waived him during the preseason.

McClung joins Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe and Rockets forward Kenyon Martin Jr. as the dunk contest participants who have been reported so far. The event will take place on Saturday, February 18 in Utah.

Kenyon Martin Jr. Signing On For Slam Dunk Contest

Rockets small forward Kenyon Martin Jr. has committed to take part in the 2023 Slam Dunk Contest, sources inform Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). He will join previously announced rookie Trail Blazers shooting guard Shaedon Sharpe in the competition.

Martin, 22, has been enjoying a solid third NBA season with the 10-29 Rockets, as Charania notes. The 6’7″ swingman is averaging 10.4 PPG on .550/.317/.651 shooting splits, along with 4.8 RPG, 1.4 APG and 0.5 SPG.

Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets that second-year Rockets shooting guard Jalen Green was also invited to participate in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest, but he turned down league overtures.

This year’s dunk contest will take place on Saturday, February 18, as part of the All-Star Weekend festivities in Utah.

Trade Candidate Watch: Players On Rookie Scale Contracts

Leading up to the February 9 trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA. We’re continuing today with a handful of former first-round picks who are still on their rookie scale contracts.

This list does not include players in the last year of their rookie contract, as those players could become restricted free agents in the offseason. We covered some of those players here.

Bones Hyland, G, Nuggets

2022/23: $2.2MM
2023/24: $2.3MM
2024/25: $4.16MM team option

The No. 26 overall pick of the 2021 draft, Hyland is looking like perhaps the most likely player to be traded out of this group.

Hyland only makes a combined $4.5MM this season and next, with a $4.16MM club option for 2024/25. That’s really cheap for a talented shooter (37.8% on threes, 86.6% on free throws) who has a fairly substantial role (19.5 MPG, 10.3 FGA) on the West’s No. 1 seed.

On the other hand, he might be looking for more minutes, and has reportedly had “occasional clashes” with head coach Michael Malone. His decision-making and shot selection can be questionable, his net rating (-8.4) is kind of a disaster (Denver’s bench units haven’t been great), and some advanced stats say he’s one of the worst defenders in the league.

Denver is said to be looking for a two-way wing and/or draft compensation for Hyland.

Saddiq Bey, F, Pistons

2022/23: $2.96MM
2023/24: $4.56MM

The No. 19 pick of the 2020 draft, Bey was productive right away for Detroit, earning a spot on the All-Rookie First Team by averaging 12.2 PPG and 4.5 RPG while shooting 38% on threes.

He had a tough start to his sophomore year, averaging 11.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 2.3 APG on .345/.296/.735 shooting through 26 games (31.7 MPG). However, he was solid the rest of the way, averaging 18.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.1 APG on .417/.364/.849 shooting over his remaining 56 contests (33.6 MPG).

Bey, who turns 24 in April, can be wildly inconsistent from game-to-game offensively. For example, last March he scored a career-high 51 points (on 17-of-27 shooting) against Orlando, but in the five games preceding that victory, he posted a .321/.235/.737 shooting line.

One of Bey’s best attributes is that he has been quite durable, having played all 82 games in ‘21/22 and only missing six of a possible 206 games to this point in his career. The Knicks are reportedly among the teams that have shown interest in Bey, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason.

Obi Toppin, F, Knicks

2022/23: $5.35MM
2023/24: $6.8MM

It’s hard to know what to make of Toppin, who was the No. 8 pick of the 2020 draft. On one hand, he averaged 20.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 3.0 APG on .571/.436/.818 shooting in 10 games as a starter last year. On the other, those numbers were somewhat inflated because most of them came in early April, when many teams aren’t exactly taking the games seriously.

Toppin is shooting – and making – more threes this season in an effort to expand his game, but it has come at the cost of his rim-running, which is a little strange (he shot 64.7% on twos over his first two seasons, but is only at 48.9% in ‘22/23). I’m not sure it’s wise for him to be attempting more threes than twos, and it hasn’t helped him get more playing time.

It’s a tough spot for both the player and team, as Julius Randle has been a better all-around player and head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t shown much interest in playing the two power forwards together. Toppin is a limited defensive player, but he tries.

Randle is under contract through at least ‘24/25, with a player option in ‘25/26. What’s the pathway for Toppin to become a starter in New York going forward? Does that matter to him?

The Pacers reportedly showed interest in Toppin earlier this season, though it’s unclear if they remain interested.

Payton Pritchard, G, Celtics

2022/23: $2.24MM
2023/24: $4.04MM

Pritchard, who just turned 25 over the weekend, was the No. 26 overall pick of the 2020 draft. The former Oregon standout is a career 39.8% three-point shooter who has seen his minutes reduced due to a backcourt logjam.

After averaging 19.2 minutes per game as a rookie in ‘20/21, he logged 14.1 MPG last season and is down to 12.5 MPG in ‘22/23. He has also been a healthy scratch several times this season.

The Celtics have the NBA’s best record, and having a cheap insurance policy like Pritchard capable of filling in when called upon is a reflection of the team’s depth. He has posted a positive net rating in each of his three seasons.

However, you could also make the case that his presence is more of a luxury than a necessity, with Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon all ahead of him in the backcourt pecking order. If the Celtics want to upgrade their depth at another position (center?), Pritchard could be used as part of a return package.

The Warriors are among the teams that have reportedly expressed interest in Pritchard. As was the case with Bey and Toppin, the 6’1″ guard will be extension-eligible in the summer.

Note: This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, just a brief overview. A number of other former first-rounders on their rookie scale deals could be traded ahead of next week’s deadline, including Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe, James Wiseman, Moses Moody, Jaden Springer, James Bouknight, Kai Jones and Shaedon Sharpe, among others.

Some of the aforementioned young players haven’t been involved in rumors to this point, but are worth keeping an eye on due to their roles and/or team situations. For example, in Sharpe’s case, the Blazers are reportedly a buyer, but their ability to trade a first-round pick is limited due to protections from a previous deal, making the 19-year-old a logical trade chip.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Sharpe, SGA, Nowell, Edwards

Trail Blazers forward Justise Winslow has been out since December 21 after suffering a Grade 2 ankle sprain. He’s making progress in his recovery, but he’s out for at least two more weeks, Portland announced in a press release.

The Blazers also provided an injury update on forward Nassir Little, who has been sidelined since November 29 with a hip fracture. There’s no official timeline for his return, but he has begun on-court contact work, per the team.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Shaedon Sharpe‘s development is an exercise in patience, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. The No. 7 overall pick of the 2022 draft didn’t play any games in his one year at Kentucky, which makes him behind the curve in some regards. Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups says the 19-year-old won’t get minutes he doesn’t earn. “That’s going to be his year all year,” Billups said, per Fentress. “We as a staff have to have a level of patience with Shae and so do our veterans. But as I tell him, and our veterans tell him, ‘We’re trying to be the best team that we can be. We don’t have time to wait on you. You didn’t go to a team that is trying to lose and get the No. 1 pick. That’s not our situation. You have to catch up.’”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is having a brilliant season for the Thunder and helped lead the team to back-to-back road victories over the Sixers and Bulls on Thursday and Friday. After Thursday’s victory, Gilgeous-Alexander expressed confidence about the team’s future, according to Thunder sideline reporter and digital editor Nick Gallo (Twitter link). “I think we’re gonna be a really good team a lot sooner than other people do,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “So I think it’s it’s pretty easy for me – I see the growth every day. I’ve seen the growth in the last five months, year, two years. And I’m super excited about it.” The Thunder are currently 20-23, the No. 11 seed in the West.
  • Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell is set to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer, but he’s not pleased with his season thus far, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “Not going well,” he said. Nowell, who shot 39.4% from deep last season, is shooting just 28.5% from behind the arc through 42 games. Head coach Chris Finch believes the 23-year-old is making things difficult on himself. “I think he’s trying to force himself into the game,” Finch said. “What it’s doing probably is bleeding over into the great looks that he’s getting. He’s trying to get himself going by taking some tough shots out there with a lot of hands in his face and then when the ball comes back, or a different situation where he’s shooting it open, particularly from three, he hasn’t seen that go in.”
  • In the same story from Hine, Finch said Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards is dealing with a “deep bruise” in his left hip, but the former No. 1 overall pick has been “cleared of all tests.” Veteran guard Austin Rivers commended Edwards’ willingness to play through the injury, Hine tweets. “It just sets a tone like this dude’s invested. He’s here. This guy’s playing through injuries, no matter. The Houston game, a lot of guys would just sit out, like, ‘Hey, we’ll win without him.’ But Ant came out there and really showed us,” he said.

Community Shootaround: Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers were one of the teams I was most interested in following entering the 2022/23 season. Perhaps most importantly, I was curious to see how Damian Lillard would perform after the first lengthy injury absence of his career following abdominal surgery last season.

Lillard has been as brilliant as ever offensively, averaging 29.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 7.1 APG on .455/.366/.898 shooting, including a career-best .638 true shooting percentage, through 32 games (35.6 MPG). So, no worries there.

As we noted when we checked in on the Blazers at the end of August, the new front office, led by general manager Joe Cronin, reshaped the roster around Lillard through a series of trades, acquiring Josh Hart, Jerami Grant and Justise Winslow. The team also added Gary Payton II in free agency, re-signed Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic, and selected Shaedon Sharpe No. 7 overall in June’s draft.

Portland got off to a terrific start, going 9-3 over its first 12 games. Unfortunately, it turns out that hot start wasn’t sustainable, as the Blazers have gone 12-20 since. They currently sit with a 21-23 record, the No. 11 seed in the West (they are 16-16 when Lillard plays).

Payton has missed most of the season with injury, as has Nassir Little, who recently returned from a fractured hip. Winslow is currently sidelined with an ankle sprain. The team’s bench depth has definitely been tested, even though the starters have been quite healthy overall.

Sharpe has been up and down, which is to be expected for a 19-year-old rookie who didn’t play at all in college. Grant has been very good, posting a career-best .621 TS% while playing solid defense.

Hart was great in 13 games (32.1 MPG) with Portland last season, averaging 19.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.3 APG and 1.2 SPG on .503/.373/.772 shooting, including a career-high 6.4 3-point attempts per contest. However, as John Hollinger of The Athletic writes, Hart has been a very reluctant shooter in ’22/23, averaging just 2.0 3PA despite playing a heavy workload (a career-high 34.2 MPG through 42 games).

Even with notable offensive weapons around him, it’s odd to see a player coming off his best individual season pass up shots like Hart has this season — he’s averaging just 7.1 FGA and 9.5 PPG. Complicating matters further is his unique contract and the team’s future cap outlook, Hollinger notes.

The Blazers want to re-sign or extend Grant, which is understandable. But Hart is almost certain to decline his non-guaranteed $12.96MM player option for next season in search of a longer deal. Keeping both while staying under the luxury tax might be impossible, according to Hollinger, who wonders if Portland would be better off dealing Hart at the deadline while they can still get value for him.

The 27-year-old is a solid defender, excellent rebounder and smart passer, plus he’s a vocal leader who plays with plenty of energy and effort. He will have positive value if Portland does move him.

The last thing I was interested in monitoring with Portland was the backcourt fit of Lillard and Simons, two scoring guards with poor defense. The results haven’t been great — the Blazers rank 11th in offense, but 22nd in defense. It’s hard to envision that changing as long as they’re together.

I actually like both players a lot individually, so this isn’t as critical as it might seem; I just think they’re a poor fit. I could easily see Simons thriving as the lead guard in Portland or another location — he averaged 29.0 PPG and 5.9 APG on .462/.419/.940 shooting in 10 games without Lillard.

The Blazers seem intent on being as competitive as possible this season. They’re only 2.5 games back of the Mavericks, the West’s No. 5 seed, and they could definitely end up there if things go right. But do they have what it takes to win a playoff series if they make it? Anything beyond that seems unlikely, even with Lillard playing at such a high level.

We want to know what you think.Where will the Trail Blazers finish in the standings this season? Can they make noise in the playoffs, if they make it? Should they move Hart while they can still get value for him, or hold off and try to re-sign him, even if it means going into the luxury tax? There are a lot of questions for this team, but not many easy answers.

Blazers’ Winslow Expected To Miss At Least Two Weeks

Trail Blazers forward Justise Winslow, who exited last Wednesday’s game vs. Oklahoma City due to a left ankle injury, has been officially diagnosed with a grade 2 ankle sprain, the team announced on Monday night in a press release.

Portland didn’t provide a formal timeline for Winslow’s potential return, but indicated he’ll be reevalauted in two weeks, so it’s safe to assume he’ll remain sidelined through at least the first week of January.

Winslow has already missed the Blazers’ last two games. Even if he’s able to return as soon as he’s reevalauted on January 9, he’ll remain on the shelf for another five contests.

Winslow isn’t part of Portland’s starting lineup when the team is fully healthy, but has started 11 of his 29 games this season and ranks sixth on the team with 26.8 minutes per contest. Although his offensive production – 6.8 points per game on .409/.311/.714 shooting – is modest, he’s a versatile defender and solid play-maker (3.4 APG) who grabs a few rebounds per night (5.0).

With Winslow and Nassir Little (hip fracture) unavailable, the Blazers will have to lean more heavily on reserves like Shaedon Sharpe, Trendon Watford, and Keon Johnson in the short term. Offseason signee Gary Payton II is also believed to be nearing his season debut and should provide additional depth off the bench.

Trail Blazers Sign Shaedon Sharpe

Shaedon Sharpe, the seventh pick in last week’s draft, has signed his rookie contract with the Trail Blazers, the team announced in a press release.

The 19-year-old Canadian was considered a wild card heading into the draft because he didn’t play college basketball. Scouts watched his practices at Kentucky, but hadn’t seen him in action in a competitive environment since he left high school.

As the No. 7 selection, Sharpe will receive $6,012,960 during his first season if he signs for the maximum allowable 120% of the rookie scale, which virtually all first-round picks do. He’s eligible to make $27,340,903 over the four-year contract, assuming the Blazers pick up his options.

Sharpe is expected to play for Portland’s entry in the Las Vegas Summer League, which starts next week.

Lillard Has Strained Leg Muscle, Out At Least One Week

Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard has a Grade 1 strain to the soleus muscle in the right lower leg, according to a team press release.

An MRI taken Saturday night after the team’s game against Utah revealed the extent of the injury. Lillard will be re-evaluated in 1-2 weeks.

Lillard missed four games earlier this season due to a calf strain. He sat out a majority of last season due to a core muscle issue.

Lillard’s calf tightened up in the third quarter Saturday while taking a jump shot.

He’s averaging 26.3 points and 7.0 assists for Portland, which is off to a 10-6 start this season despite losing three of its last four games.

The Blazers’ backcourt has already been thinned by injuries to Gary Payton II and Keon Johnson. Rookie Shaedon Sharpe will have to shoulder a heavier load until Lillard returns.

Shaedon Sharpe Will Stay In 2022 Draft

Kentucky freshman wing Shaedon Sharpe, a projected top-1o lottery prospect, will forgo his academic eligibility and remain in the 2022 NBA draft, he announced today (Twitter link).

“First and foremost, through God’s blessings, it has been a privilege to attend the University of Kentucky,” Sharpe wrote. “Thank you #BBN for your support during my time with [Kentucky]… With the positive feedback I’ve received I will be remaining in the NBA Draft.”

Expecting to play for the Wildcats during the 2022/23 NCAA season, Sharpe first enrolled in Kentucky during the spring semester of the 2021/22 school year. After it became clear that he would be a high-level pick in the 2022 draft, the 6’6″ prospect initially entered his name into the draft pool in April.

Sharpe is projected as the No. 7 prospect in ESPN’s latest big board.

Bennedict Mathurin, Jalen Williams Named Rookies Of The Month

Pacers reserve swingman Bennedict Mathurin and Thunder wing Jalen Williams have been voted the Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month for October and November, the league announced (Twitter link). Since the 2022/23 regular season only got underway in late October, the partial month was folded into November in this instance.

Drafted with the sixth pick out of Arizona, the 6’6″ Mathurin is averaging 19.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 APG and 0.6 SPG in 28 MPG off the bench for the 12-9 Pacers.

Williams, the No. 12 selection out of Santa Clara, is averaging 10.7 PPG on 52.4% field goal shooting, along with 3.2 RPG and 2.6 APG for a solid 9-13 Oklahoma City squad.

The NBA adds (via Twitter) that Rockets power forwards Tari Eason and Jabari Smith Jr., Kings power forward Keegan Murray, Trail Blazers rookie guard Shaedon Sharpe, Magic big man Paolo Banchero, Hawks wing AJ Griffin, Pistons guard Jaden Ivey, and Mathurin’s Indiana teammate Andrew Nembhard were also nominees for the honor.

Shaedon Sharpe Resumes Shooting After Shoulder Injury

Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe, who injured his shoulder last month during his first Summer League game, has resumed shooting, tweets Casey Holdahl of Holdahl doesn’t know exactly when team doctors gave their approval for Sharpe to begin shooting again.

The seventh pick in this year’s draft, Sharpe suffered a “small” labral tear in his left shoulder, according to a press release from the team. The 19-year-old guard was expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp, and this is an important step along the way.

Sharpe played just six minutes before the injury occurred, disappointing fans who had hoped to see him in action after he sat out last season at Kentucky. The Canadian native was a five-star recruit out of high school and made a strong impression on scouts who watched him practice with the Wildcats.

Shaedon Sharpe Expected To Undergo MRI On Shoulder

Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe played just six minutes in his Summer League debut on Thursday before sustaining a left shoulder injury, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who tweets that Sharpe is expected to undergo an MRI to assess the severity of the injury.

Sharpe, who was technically enrolled at Kentucky for his first and only college season in 2021/22, never actually played for the team, making him one of the biggest mysteries of this year’s draft. However, Portland was willing to bet on his upside, making him the No. 7 overall pick last month.

Fans and league observers eager to watch Sharpe during the Las Vegas Summer League might only end up getting a brief glimpse — even if the 19-year-old’s shoulder injury isn’t serious, the Blazers may play it safe and shut him down for the rest of the event.

Sharpe signed his rookie scale contract last Friday, locking in a $6MM+ guaranteed salary for 2022/23.

Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe Entering 2022 NBA Draft

Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe will declare for the 2022 NBA draft and intends to go pro, forgoing his remaining college eligibility, sources tell Shams Charania and Kyle Tucker of The Athletic (Twitter link).

There had been some question as to whether Sharpe, who will turn 19 next month, would be eligible for the 2022 draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony confirms (via Twitter) that he graduated from high school in May 2021 and says his diploma will be sent to the NBA league office. Givony first reported in January that Sharpe would be able to apply for this year’s draft as an early entrant.

Formerly the No. 1 recruit in the 2022 high school class, Sharpe reclassified and joined the Wildcats in January for the remainder of the 2021/22 season. Head coach John Calipari announced in February that Sharpe wouldn’t play at all in ’21/22, and Kentucky’s plan at that point was to have him make his college debut in ’22/23.

Instead, Sharpe will go pro without having played a single college game. While that will create an air of mystery around him as draft night approaches, NBA scouts and evaluators are extremely high on the young guard’s potential based on what they saw from him before he arrived at Kentucky. ESPN ranks him as the No. 6 overall player on its big board for 2022.

According to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz, Sharpe has an impressive 6’6″ frame, solid instincts, and NBA-ready shooting to go along with improving play-making. The 18-year-old is still learning how to best utilize his talent and lacks high-level experience, so he’ll have to get accustomed to playing within a system on both ends of the court, but Sharpe’s physical tools make him a potential top-five pick, Schmitz writes.

And-Ones: Henderson, Top Offseason Adds, 2022 Re-Draft

G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, the consensus No. 2 prospect in the 2023 draft class, has been diagnosed with a nose fracture after entering the concussion protocols and missing the team’s last four games, writes Cody Taylor of Rookie Wire.

Although Henderson has already been sidelined since November 18, the injury isn’t considered a long-term one and he’s being listed as day-to-day for the time being. According to Taylor, there’s a chance Henderson will be cleared to return on Sunday when the Ignite host the South Bay Lakers.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Northwest Notes: Sharpe, Hart, Agbaji, Bolmaro, Towns

With Damian Lillard sidelined due to a calf strain, rookie guard Shaedon Sharpe earned his first career NBA start on Friday and didn’t disappoint, scoring 14 points in the Trail Blazers‘ victory over Houston. Given that Sharpe didn’t play at all at Kentucky and just turned 19 this spring, there was a sense that he may not see much action right away, but head coach Chauncey Billups hasn’t hesitated to throw the youngster into the deep end.

“I look at it as, man, we lost a lot of basketball games to get Shaedon Sharpe; let’s play this kid,” Billups said, per Jason Quick of The Athletic. “Let me see what he’s got.”

While Sharpe wasn’t the reason Portland won on Friday, he was the Blazers’ most electrifying player, throwing down three big dunks over the course of the night and earning praise from coaches and teammates alike, with Billups calling him “must-see TV.” Veteran Blazers center Drew Eubanks is among those already excited about Sharpe’s long-term potential.

“I heard Dame say it earlier this year, he was saying like, Shaedon is the type of talent that could take us over the edge of being a fringe playoff team into a full-blown playoff team fighting for a championship,” Eubanks said. “When he said that, I was like, ‘Damn, I’m gonna kind of take that with a grain of salt.’ Because I hadn’t seen Shaedon play … but after watching him play these first six games, and in preseason, I’m like, he’s super talented. He has the world at his fingertips. I believe what Dame said now, for sure.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Trail Blazers forward Josh Hart has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol, tweets Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Hart suffered the injury on Friday when he hit his head on the floor after a drive to the basket.
  • Ochai Agbaji and Leandro Bolmaro, two young players acquired in Utah’s blockbuster summer trades, got their first extended run with the Jazz on Friday night, as Sarah Todd of The Deseret News details. Agabaji scored nine points in 19 minutes, while Bolmaro flashed promising play-making and defense and was a plus-16 in 15 minutes. The Jazz have until Monday’s deadline to exercise Bolmaro’s $2.59MM option for the 2023/24 season.
  • As the Timberwolves adjust to their new-look frontcourt that now features Karl-Anthony Towns at power forward instead of center, head coach Chris Finch continues to praise his All-Star big man for his willingness to accommodate Rudy Gobert, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “That guy is All-NBA. There’s no other All-NBA player who is being asked to play a completely different position,” Finch said. “One that he’s willing to do and has approached it with an open mind-set, and he’s actually embraced it.”

Shaedon Sharpe Won’t Need Shoulder Surgery For Labral Tear

Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe, the No. 7 overall pick of last month’s draft, won’t require surgery to repair the small labral tear in his left shoulder, the team announced in a press release.

The 19-year-old will continue to rehab the injury and is expected to be ready to go for training camp in the fall, per the team.

Sharpe was technically enrolled at Kentucky for his first and only college season in 2021/22 but never actually played for the Wildcats, making him one of the biggest mysteries of this year’s draft. He was injured just six minutes into his Summer League debut against Detroit on July 7, so Portland fans will have to wait a few more months to see him play.

While Sharpe was viewed as a high-risk, high-reward prospect due to the fact that he hadn’t played in a competitive setting for nearly a year, the Blazers clearly felt comfortable enough to select him with their mid-lottery pick. He will be one of the more interesting rookies to follow in ’22/23.

Gary Payton II Still At Least Two Weeks Away From Blazers Debut

Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II has been experiencing “intermittent soreness” during his rehab from core muscle surgery as he ramps up for a return to play, the team announced today in a press release.

According to the Blazers, Payton will continue his rehab work in anticipation of returning to full practice. He’ll be reevaluated in two weeks, meaning he won’t make his Portland debut until at least December.

The Blazers’ statement doesn’t use the term “setback,” and their wording doesn’t suggest that Payton has suffered a new injury or aggravated a core muscle issue.

Still, when the surgery was first announced in September, the team indicated the veteran guard was expected to be ready for the start of the season, and there was a sense at the start of the month that he could be ready to play as soon as November 15, so his rehab process is taking a little longer than anticipated.

The Blazers haven’t missed a beat with Payton unavailable. Their 10-5 record puts them atop the Western Conference, and their 109.9 defensive rating is the seventh-best mark in the NBA. Given Payton’s lock-down ability as a perimeter defender, that unit should only improve once he’s ready to play.

With Payton out until at least December, the Blazers will continue to lean heavily on Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons in the backcourt, with Josh Hart and rookie Shaedon Sharpe also playing regular roles.

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