The Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to take zero shortcuts in this rebuild. With Sam Presti veering away from positional need and consensus picks, Bricktown has stayed true to form in selecting high-ceiling prospects. Shaedon Sharpe enters the draft conversation with an intriguing story and some mystique surrounding his name.
Sharpe, age 18, started the 2021-22 school year playing for Dream City Christain, a private high school in Glendale, Arizona. However, with Sharpe having completed all high school credits prior to the fall semester, he withdrew from the school, enrolling with Kentucky in January.
Sharpe never took to the court for the Wildcats this season, but his averages of 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists at the 2021 Nike EYBL have made many believe he carries a ton of potential. At 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, his build translates to the modern-day two.
Offensively, Sharpe has shown to be an elite athlete. In his tenure at Dream City Christian, Sharpe became the go-to target for alley-oop dunks as his explosiveness around the basket routinely made impossible finishes look like clockwork. His burst around the basket translates on the deck as he’s prone to finish through contact will mid-air adjustment aplenty. Sharpe won't lead you as a ball-handler. However, his current array of moves has helped him make room at the perimeter. As a scorer, Sharpe has yet to reach three-level status as his jumper was both on the slower side and inconsistent in high school. But, when he found success with his jumper, his game didn’t have too many parameters. He’s a project piece at the perimeter, but he should be an effective slasher and cutter from the jump.
For Oklahoma City, Sharpe could cause some rotation woes solely based on his position. But, you can see some alignments in terms of playstyle. With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey on board, Sharpe isn't going to be the primary ball-handler. He’s someone who can lift the load. What he can do is help you in a secondary position, filling out a role as a one-on-one shot creator. Right now, he’s a player who’d broaden the playbook as his insane vertical, which clocked 49 inches at his pro day, make him a great backdoor cutter and lob threat. The main concern centers on if he’s a legitimate catch-and-shoot figure, as with Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey flaky from deep, it’d be nice to bring on a trusty sharpshooter.
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Defensively, Shaedon Sharpe has yet to face premier competition, but he’s had some moments. To tag with his 6-foot-6 height, Sharpe’s 7-foot wingspan makes him the prototypical build for a defensive wing. At the high-school level, he did a great job laterally playing perimeter defense and on the interior, he had great timing to both reject and alter shot attempts. The jump from high school to college is significant in terms of defensive ability, both in talent and scheming. But, there’s a clear mold to build off of with Sharpe.
One of the Thunder’s biggest concerns as a franchise has stemmed from the shooting guard position. Sam Presti accrued a pair of defensive-oriented wings in Andre Roberson and Josh Huestis in the early-to-mid 2010s, but neither grew offensively. When Presti tried to find a middle ground in Terrance Ferguson, both sides of his game failed to develop, making him a high-flier who couldn’t get into interior situations.
If Sharpe stays par to the course on both sides of the ball, he should fill the type of mold Presti has been asking for the good part of a decade. On the flip side, his lack of experience may lead to him being raw initially – making him a long-term play. As of now, he projects as a solid defender at the next level.
Shaedon Sharpe would indefinitely bring Oklahoma City an explosive athlete with a bevy of potential. With the Thunder selecting at picks 2 and 12, Sharpe is a talent expected to be out of the equation for both selections. However, if Presti is bought in on the hype, giving him a look could be worthwhile leading into next month’s draft.