Earlier this month, Shaedon Sharpe allegedly recorded a 49-inch vertical on a jump test not administered or reviewed by the NBA. If both accurate and properly measured, that is quite stunning. Last year, Keon Johnson, now a Portland Trail Blazer, set the NBA Draft combine record with a 48-inch vertical leap. Just to compare with other elite-level athletes: Hamidou Diallo recorded a 44.5-inch vertical in 2018 and Zach LaVine logged a 41.5-inch vertical in 2014. Michael Jordan reportedly had a vertical jump of 48 inches.
Different from some of the league’s current elite scorers at the shooting guard position, Sharpe is a high-level off-ball scorer. In high school, many of his buckets came on backdoor cuts, baseline slashes, and alley-oop lobs while hanging in the dunker spot or when cutting down the lane. Where his explosiveness is really on display is in transition, as he loves to race down the floor, get ahead of opponents, and catch outlet passes for easy dunks. He’ll also sometimes fly in for putback slams off missed shots.
Shot Creation Potential
There’s a lot to dissect with Sharpe’s shot creating off the dribble. On one hand, he has a very smooth fadeaway jumper, which is unique for someone his age. His step-back is Jalen Green-esque, as he’s got that hop and skip that creates just enough separation for a jumper. Although very athletic and bouncy, he’s not the fastest when he puts the ball on the deck, nor does he have great handles. Even against high school competition, he didn’t fly by defenders, but rather used shifty, slick movements to get to his spots. His shot form looks good, although it’s still unclear whether his shooting touch, particularly from beyond the arc, is just average or above average.
Overlooked is Sharpe’s defensive capabilities. It’s on this end of the floor where his 7-foot wingspan really stands out. Not only does he move his feet well on the perimeter to stay attached to ball handlers, but he has outstanding timing when he rises to block or alter a shot, which for a guard is rather unusual. His elevation alone helps him contest shots, both near the basket and on the perimeter.
Areas to Improve
Attacking Basket Off Dribble
When isolating a defender or operating out of the pick-and-roll in high school, Sharpe often settled for jumpers. He needs to sharpen his ball-handling skills and get more polished on his drives. There’s an assumption that he can blow past defenders because of his athleticism and agility. But right now, he seems more comfortable stopping and popping rather than trying to get all the way to the basket. When he does attack the hoop, generally it’s a straight line drive.
There are mixed opinions out there about Sharpe as an overall creator. Many have assumed that he plays with blinders on, but when reviewing his high school footage, that doesn’t appear to be the case. He seems more than willing to play through the pass, but because he’s so young and unrefined, sometimes he can be a bit careless with the ball or simply settle for contested shots.
Ceiling: Jalen Green/Bradley Beal (shot creation style) and Andrew Wiggins (off-ball movements/defense)
Others he’s like: Gerald Green (athleticism) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (transition offense)
Age: 18 (turns 19 on May 30)
Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Hometown: London, Canada
College: Kentucky (didn’t appear in any games)
Strengths: Verticality, Cutting/Slashing, Transition Offense, Shooting Form, Defensive Potential, Playmaking Potential
Weaknesses: Attacking Basket, Ball Security, Inexperience