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An unnamed NBA executive questioned how a team could use a top-five pick in the 2022 NBA draft on Shaedon Sharpe, who didn’t play a game at Kentucky.
Sharpe, a 5-star prospect coming out of high school, enrolled at UK in January but didn’t make any appearances for the Wildcats during the stretch run of the 2021-22 college basketball season. He then declared for the draft.
“How the [expletive] can you be the fifth pick in the draft if you haven’t played in a year-and-a-half? It’s not like it’s [James] Wiseman and the guy is 7 feet tall. Show me where the five[-star] shit is. Show me,” a Western Conference exec told David Aldridge of The Athletic on Tuesday.
Sharpe is one of the most interesting draft cases in recent memory. He was an unranked recruit throughout most of high school before a breakout performance during the 2021 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).
While that allowed him to garner interest from Kentucky, he never got an opportunity to prove himself against college competition. So he’ll essentially jump from the EYBL and Arizona’s Dream City Christian School straight to the NBA.
Such a move was semi-common before the NBA introduced a rule necessitating prospects be one year removed from high school and at least 19 years old to enter the draft. Sharpe met both requirements after turning 19 on May 30.
So, now teams inside the lottery must decide whether to make a significant investment in a late-rising prospect with no college experience.
Another executive told Aldridge it’s going to take a certain type of franchise to draft Sharpe early, which they described as “taking an absolute swing.”
“I think it’s going to be just getting to know the kid, see where his head is at,” the exec said. “… You know the teams that could do that—the Oklahoma Citys, the San Antonios. The synergy between ownership and front office and coaches and strength and conditioning.”
The Thunder own the Nos. 2 and 12 picks, while the Spurs sit at No. 9 in the opening round.
Although Sharpe, who measured in at 6’5¼” and 198 pounds at the combine, has ample upside, it’s impossible to know how quickly he’ll be able to make an impact in the NBA.
The Canadian wing has the potential to become a key two-way contributor and eventual All-Star performer thanks to his ability to create offense and defend multiple positions, which comes from his high-end athleticism.
Yet, whether he’ll be an immediate rotation player or it’ll take a few years before he can be counted on in the NBA is a mystery. He’s still managed to create plenty of intrigue, though.
“You could see a team’s eyes perk up because of what they see in this kid,” the second executive told Aldridge.
All told, it makes Sharpe the ultimate risk-reward pick in the 2022 draft.