3 Players that should be considered foundational pieces in the Blazers' rebuild

Before making essential offseason decisions, the Portland Trail Blazers should decide who is a core piece of their rebuilding process.
Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks
Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
1 of 3

The Portland Trail Blazers are entering a pivotal summer in what is officially their first full offseason in the post-Damian Lillard era. After finishing last in the Western Conference, Portland has multiple needs to address this offseason. Something the Blazers should decide before making all these crucial decisions is who they unequivocally view as foundational pieces to their rebuild.

In other words, they need to determine which players they plan on keeping for the long haul, regardless of unexpected events in the ever-evolving NBA; this will help determine who they need to prioritize building around and what that means in terms of positional fit as well as roster strengths and weaknesses.

1. Shaedon Sharpe

Shaedon Sharpe is arguably the easiest to count as a foundational part of the Blazers' rebuild. The No. 7 overall pick in the 2022 draft, Sharpe is still only 20 years old and isn't even close to reaching his peak, which should be a scary thought for opposing teams.

It isn't easy to gameplan for someone who allegedly recorded a 49-inch vertical, which would break the previous record of Keon Johnson's 48-inch vertical. But, once Sharpe gets more reps under his belt and refines certain aspects of his game, he could be Portland's best player in the coming years.

All signs pointed to Sharpe having a breakout sophomore campaign after a promising finish to his rookie season. Post All-Star break in his 2022-23 rookie year, Sharpe almost doubled his scoring output from 7.9 to 14.7 points per game. He was finally getting more comfortable with the Blazers' system and taking advantage of his increased role.

In 15 games as a starter, Sharpe averaged a well-rounded stat line of 18.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game on 45/36/77 shooting splits. These numbers seem reasonable to expect for Sharpe's third season. He could finally experience a full-on breakout year that many anticipated this season.

The Blazers have been eagerly awaiting Sharpe's return to action after undergoing surgery for a core muscle injury in February this season. As a result of the injury, Sharpe was limited to 32 games, averaging 15.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 0.9 steals on inefficient shooting percentages of 41/33/82.

At 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, Sharpe possesses the physical tools to be a switchable one-through-three defender (or even four, depending on the matchup). He has the frame, athleticism, and lateral quickness to be an above-average defender, although he still needs to put it all together.

The main selling point with Sharpe is his scoring ability as someone who can play off the ball. He's already an elite slasher and finds creative ways to utilize his athleticism to get open looks. As he continues developing an offensive arsenal, Sharpe will be a considerable threat to drive and constantly pressure defenses with the ball in his hands.

Sharpe's swing skill is his shooting to reach his All-Star level upside. But at just 20 years old and with less than two full seasons of in-game experience, there's reason for optimism in that department.