Portland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups has issued some lofty praise for rookie Shaedon Sharpe.
Following Tuesday’s practice, Billups was asked to compare the 19-year-old rookie to players he faced during his 17-year NBA career that spanned from 1997 to 2014.
The names that escaped Billups’ lips: Former Blazers All-Star Brandon Roy and eight-time NBA All-star Vince Carter.
“It’s crazy that I say this, but I honestly think he reminds me some of Brandon Roy, to be honest with you,” Billups said. “By way of how smooth he is and Brandon was a lot more athletic than he got credit for. (Sharpe) gets to his spots. You really don’t speed him up. He does, he reminds me a lot of Brandon. But he reminds me also a little bit of Vince Carter. Just his athleticism, his smoothness, his gracefulness. So, obviously those are big time players and Vince is going to be a Hall of Famer. But he has this type of potential.”
Sharpe, the No. 7 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, made his first start Friday in a win over Houston in place of Damian Lillard, out with a right calf strain. Billups said Sharpe would start again Wednesday against Memphis at the Moda Center.
Sharpe scored 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting against the Rockets. That performance included three dunks that were close to the level of what Carter did during his career, as well as some crafty scoring similar to how Roy played in Portland.
In six games this season, Sharpe is 9.3 points on 50% shooting in 18.5 minutes per game.
Sharpe, Billups said, has physical tools and gifts that are uncommon.
“His athleticism is special,” Billups said. “It really is. And his he plays with a smoothness that, it’s just a gift. People don’t have that. His footwork is really good. He’s a very graceful athlete. His balance is incredible. He’s able to shoot the ball from really deep, really easily. So, those types of things that you actually can’t teach, he’s off the boards on.”
But talent is not enough to become an NBA superstar. Billups said Sharpe will need help reaching his potential.
“Now it’s on Dame, it’s on myself, it’s on his teammates, on his staff, to teach him what this game is all about and how to play this game and how to study the guys that he’s going to be playing against,” Billups said. “How to get to know them. Those are the things that take you to the next level. But he is a special young talent.”
Lillard summed up his feelings about Sharpe in a recent tweet.
“Shaedon Sharpe is special…”
It certainly appears that way.
— Aaron Fentress | afentress@Oregonian.com | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook).
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