There haven’t been many bright spots during the Portland Trail Blazers’ 0-3 start to the 2023-24 NBA season. Scoot Henderson has looked every bit like a 19 year old, Deandre Ayton hasn’t found his footing with his new team, and prior to the Oct. 27 game against the Orlando Magic, it was announced that guard Anfernee Simons would miss four-to-six weeks with a thumb injury. However, that opens the door for Shaedon Sharpe.
Sharpe has started both of Portland’s games sans Simons and has been a featured – perhaps the featured – offensive option. He’s averaging 38.5 minutes and 22 points per game in those two contests. He scored 20 points and shot 53.8 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three and 80 percent from the free-throw line on 5 attempts in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Shaedon is getting his opportunity and, at least so far, has run with it.
That’s led to Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups tossing out a wild comparison when discussing Sharpe’s future in the NBA.
Chauncey Billups expects Shaedon Sharpe to become as good as Devin Booker
Billups told Ryan Clarke of The Oregonian/Oregon Live he wants Sharpe to “be Devin Booker one day.”
"Devin Booker, I personally think he’s one of the top five or six players in the league. The way he had to grind and come up through the ranks, he played for four or five different coaches his first few years in the league … He played the right way no matter who was coaching him, and then, bang. … That’s a great model for Shaedon. He’s got that type of talent offensively and defensively, so, to me, that should be his model.Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups on Shaedon Sharpe"
Is Devin Booker a fair comparison for Shaedon Sharpe?
Booker is a three-time all-star and was a First-Team All-NBA guard in 2021-22 at age 25. Sharpe is only three games through his age 20 season, so any kind of statistical comparison needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
It’s notable that Booker played 38 games at the University of Kentucky, while Sharpe didn’t play any competitive basketball between high school and his NBA debut, but nonetheless:
Shaedon Sharpe vs. Devin Booker rookie season
- Sharpe: 19 years old, 22.2 minutes per game, 80 games, 15 starts
- 9.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists
- 8.8 field-goal attempts, 3.5 attempts from three, 47/36/71 shooting splits
- Booker: 19 years old, 27.7 mpg, 76 games, 51 starts
- 13.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.5 apg
- 11.4 field-goal attempts, 3.8 attempts from three, 42/34/84 shooting splits
Sharpe vs. Booker year two
- Sharpe: 20 years old, 35.3 mpg, 3 games, 2 starts
- 19.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.3 apg
- 16.7 FGA, 7.0 3PA, 44/33/88 shooting splits
- Booker: 20 years old, 35 mpg, 78 games, 78 starts
- 22.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.4 apg
- 18.3 FGA, 5.2 3PA, 42/36/83 shooting splits
Sharpe had fewer opportunities to make an impact in his rookie season with Damian Lillard and Simons entrenched as the Blazers’ starting backcourt. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight led the 2015-16 Suns in scoring and Phoenix finished 14th in the Western Conference standings.
Booker led the 2016-17 Suns – which finished the year 15th in the West – in minutes, shot attempts and scoring. The point of Phoenix’s season was fast-tracking Booker’s development.
That makes this year a more apt comparison. Sharpe is playing about the same amount of minutes Booker did, although those could go down once Simons returns. He’ll likely attempt fewer shots than the Suns star did, but has shown he can be just as efficient, if not more so.
Booker is in his age-27 season, his ninth in the NBA. Looking at the above stats and respective situations, is it totally out of the realm of possibility that Shaedon develops into a Booker archetype – a legitimate three-level scorer and one of the best guards in the league?
It’s a high bar Billups publicly set for his 20-year-old sophomore, but looking at the early-career stats and the rate at which Sharpe is already developing, it’s not an impossible bar for Shaedon to reach.