Back in the day when I used to go to malls just to hang out (ah, those were the days), a must stop every time was Sharper Image. It was like the in-flight magazines, but in person! All sorts of shiny, new, modernized gadgets and gizmos, tech-driven household items I otherwise wouldn’t care about, random game, sporting and, especially, golf novelties and, of course, a few minutes in the latest and greatest massage chair. It was a blissful time of next-level window shopping between stops at Sam Goody, Sbarro, Zumies, and more. Sharper Image was great because it was all eye candy without any inclination that I’d actually be buying something. Aside from the fact I couldn’t afford anything in there as a teenager, I also didn’t need it, as cool and flashy as it was.
And that’s Shaedon Sharpe in his rookie season for fantasy basketball.
In planning to make Sharpe the lede (technical journalism spelling of the word there) for this week’s Rookie Report, I was hoping for less of a dud than he put up on national tele Wednesday night, as he got his second straight start with Damian Lillard out, but finished just 1-6 with 2 points, 2 boards, 2 steals and a block in 24 minutes, and Keon Johnson played the 4th quarter in his place. But there’s still plenty to gawk at, even if we’re not buying anything right now (other than deep leagues or dynasty — and I recomend being a buyer in dynasty).
Speaking of d’nasty, Sharpe could end up giving Bennedict Mathurin a run for his money for NROTY (Nastiest Rookie of the Year). On Friday against the Rockets, he threw down a couple highlight reel dunks that had people buzzing, including this stare down with the rim:
Sharpe was a mystery coming into the season, with many (including myself) wondering if he’d get much run at all. But he’s been a solid part of the Blazers rotation since game one, averaging about 19 minutes with a decent 20% usage rate. He’s established himself as possibly the best dunker and the smoothest shooter from the rookie class, converting 43% from deep and 50% overall.
The intangibles are there, including a natural feel for the game and freaky athleticism – a near 7-foot wingspan and the biggest hands of any wing in the 2022-23 rookie class. And we all know big hands equal big d … “Hey, watch your mouth, this is a classy joint!” “First off, no it’s not; and second, I was about to say” … dunks.
Sharpe’s most elite ability as a rookie is as a cutter and slasher. He is top 5 in the NBA for wings in getting to the rim. He has a buttery shooting stroke and is almost certain to establish a good mid-range game , but starting his career he’s opted to spot the open crease in the lane and get up close and personal with the bucket.
He isn’t picking up many counting stats yet, but he’s shown in glimpses to be a playmaker and a ball hawk. Oh, and he’s 19, and a possible fantasy star in the making.
Elsewhere this week in the NBA rookie class:
Rookie play this week has been, well, meh. Last week Son added his research from a year ago explaining why everyone should think twice before drafting rookies in standard leagues. (Yeah, I know, information that would have been helpful A MONTH AGO!!!) Paolo Banchero is a great example early in the season. As impressive as he’s looked both on film and in the box score (21.8 pts., 7.6 boards, 2.4 asts., half a steal and a block per game), he’s currently a 10th/11th round value in per-game category fantasy ball because the percentages are far from magical.
On the flip side, Keegan Murray has fewer points, boards and assists than Banchero, but is currently the top fantasy rookie thanks to percentages of 49%/39%/86% while canning about 3 of 7 attempts from deep per game. “Excuse me?” Yep, three 3s a game, and against pretty solid defenses. That stat can’t be sustainable, right?
Jalen Williams (JALEN, not JAYLIN) has six steals in two games since returning from injury, and had an impressive 26-minute performance against Dallas. The Thunder will continue to be a crapshoot for fantasy players outside their starting backcourt. But JALEN could be a second half pickup if OKC decides to move on from Lu Dort at the trade deadline.
Christian Koloko (“Off the Toronto Keys, there’s a man named Koloko” – Beach Boys knockoff in the works) is now the Raptors starting center – question mark. His pick-and-roll defense has been impressive for a rookie, highlighted on Halloween night when he switched onto Dejounte Murray and rejected his driving layup attempt like someone trying to slip a toothbrush into your candy bag. “Get that S outta here!” He’s a way better player so far for Nick Nurse than for fantasy coaches, but may become a valuable source of blocks as the season goes on.
David Roddy Roddy Piper has had a mishmash of stat lines while getting 20 minutes a game, with samplings of 3s, boards and steals along the way.
Quick check in on Tari Eason: 6-7-2-1-3 in 18 minutes while Jabari Smith continues to slump yet still get 30+ minutes. (Screams again into pillow). Greeeat.