“Situational Analysis” is a series of articles that seeks to examine the circumstances that most often influence an NBA prospect’s success. Each player will be scored on a scale from 1-10 in four different categories: NBA-specific skill(s), fatal flaw(s), collegiate/overseas/pre-NBA environment, and ideal NBA ecosystem.

Shaedon Sharpe is an 18-year-old guard/forward from London, Ontario, Canada, who averaged … um … nothing for the Kentucky Wildcats. He is expected to be selected among the top-10 picks in the upcoming NBA Draft and as high as No. 3 overall. NBADraft.net currently has him projected at No. 9.

NBA-Specific Skills

Shaedon Sharpe appears to have been built in a Canadian basketball laboratory to play shooting guard in the NBA.

He is without question the most explosive scorer in this year’s draft. He is the unofficial winner of both the “best highlight mixtape” award and the “squint and he looks like a young Kobe” award. Even though he’s one of the draft’s youngest prospects, Sharpe already possesses an NBA frame (6-6, 210 pounds, 7-foot wingspan) and elite-level athleticism. It’s quite possible Sharpe isn’t finished growing, either.

He can score effectively at all three levels, but it’s at the rim where Sharpe does most of his damage. He is too strong and athletic for high school competition. He shows terrific range on his jumper and an ability to create space for himself with a tight handle and a confident step-back move.

The physical attributes translate defensively, as well, as he can be a menace in passing lanes and a sneaky weakside shot-blocking threat.

Much like Jalen Green in last year’s draft, Sharpe is the swing-for-the-fences prospect. He likely won’t go ahead of the Big Three of Smith/Holmgren/Banchero, but it’s possible we look back on this draft in five years and wonder why Sharpe didn’t go No. 1 overall.

On a scale from 1-10, Sharpe’s scoring upside rates at a 9.5.

Fatal Flaws

So, why isn’t Sharpe in serious consideration for the No. 1 pick? For starters, he did not play any basketball last year. Seems like a concern.

It’s been more than a year since Sharpe laced up his sneakers for a competitive game. He committed to Kentucky and then, well, who can say with any certainty what happened after that?

We have been forced to observe this odd, troubling trend in the upper echelons of this game we love so much. It’s grown increasingly acceptable for some of the most talented players on earth to … just not play. I can’t make any claims about Sharpe’s mentality, his competitiveness, his drive to improve. I don’t know him. I’ve never spoken to him. I just don’t see an enormous track record of success for the tantalizingly talented, yet perpetually unavailable basketball star.

Lottery picks are precious commodities. Teams that consistently miss on these picks are the teams that can never escape that weird room where the ping pong balls decide their fates. A team must be absolutely certain that Sharpe’s track record of unexcused absences will not follow him into a league where he will accept a sizable salary in exchange for basketball excellence.

The rest of it is impossible to evaluate. Will he be a good playmaker? Will he be able to defend at an NBA level? Will he be a good teammate? Nobody has any idea, and anyone who claims to know this based on a few scattered high school games in Arizona and some EYBL footage is lying.

On a scale from 1 (not a concern) to 10 (serious hindrance), Sharpe’s almost unending list of question marks rates at a 9.5.

Pre-NBA Setting

Sharpe’s name was nowhere near the major recruiting lists until he ended up in Glendale, Arizona, and vaulted up the rankings with almost unprecedented speed.

It’s exceedingly rare for a player to go from “relative unknown” to “No. 1 overall recruit” in the span of a year, but that’s essentially what Sharpe pulled off. It seemed exceedingly likely that Sharpe would forego college entirely and spend a year in the G League prior to declaring his draft eligibility, but after an odd series of reclassifications, Sharpe ended up in Kentucky with John Calipari midway through the season.

It’s unclear whether Sharpe ever intended on playing for the Wildcats. He wasn’t injured. Calipari went on record saying that “there has never been a plan” to play Sharpe in 2022. He did practice sometimes, though, so that’s something?

When we have seen him play – Dream City Christian, Nike EYBL, a few FIBA games for Team Canada – Sharpe looks like a surefire lottery pick. But the best thing we can say about Sharpe’s competitive basketball career thus far is “not applicable.”

On a scale from 1-10, Sharpe’s pre-NBA career rates at a 4.

Ideal NBA Ecosystem

Perhaps more than any other prospect in this year’s draft, Sharpe needs to end up on a team with a stable, patient front office and a rock-solid infrastructure. Many of the teams picking in his range do not fit those qualifications.

Rumors have started to swirl that the Sacramento Kings are considering Sharpe at No. 4. On paper, it makes sense. The Kings have been desperately searching for a franchise star for years and Sharpe fits the profile, but “patience” and “stability” are the last two words anyone would use to describe whatever has been going on in Sacramento.

The slow-build Detroit Pistons makes some sense. Cade Cunningham spent the second half of last season showing the poise and playmaking skill that made him the unquestioned No. 1 overall pick, and Sharpe would fit in nicely as an explosive wingman. Plus, real expectations are still years away in Detroit, so Sharpe would have time to ease into the NBA in a low-pressure setting.

San Antonio, however, might the best landing spot for Sharpe. There isn’t a more stable front office in the lottery, and the Spurs have proven time and again that they can provide the proper framework for just about any player. But Sharpe’s “maybe I’ll play, but maybe I won’t” routine will not fly in San Antonio, especially after the Kawhi Leonard soap opera.

On a scale from 1-10, Sharpe’s situational dependence is at an 11. It is a lot to ask any teenager to transition into the NBA, let alone one who is coming off a self-inflicted extended layoff from competitive basketball.


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