Ranking the Trail Blazers' Top 3 Rookies and Sophomores

Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers
Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages
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No. 2: Toumani Camara

In the preseason, Toumani Camara caught fans’ eyes as a rangy forward with some two-way ability. His performance throughout the Blazers’ regular season has solidified his reputation as an impact defender with upside as a starting-caliber forward.

Since moving into the starting lineup, Camara has consistently drawn the toughest defensive assignment. Tom Haberstroh, Trail Blazers’ analytics insider, found a stat that quantifies Billups’ trust in Camara’s on-ball defense: For the season, Camara has defended 22 all-stars at least five possessions.

The list is headlined by Luka Doncic, Lauri Markkanen and Stephen Curry, a combination of players that demonstrates Camara’s versatility as a defender who can chase smaller guards and provide resistance against bigger forwards.

As an on-ball defender, Camara possesses few weaknesses. He is long, strong and navigates screens well. A game-saving block against Colin Sexton illustrates his quickness and impressive timing in contesting shots at the rim.

Camara has displayed flashes of capable shooting, but he has yet to pose a threat to defenses as a sniper, only converting 30 percent of his 3-point attempts. An improved outside shot would make Camara a dangerous offensive player since he has already demonstrated an impressive ability to attack closeouts and finish with either hand.

Camara’s athleticism and timing have also translated to effective offensive rebounding.

He still has room to grow as an offensive player. His fulfillment of the three-and-D archetype depends on his development as a shooter. However, by consistently finding ways to get on the floor, Camara has already proved himself as the gem of the Blazers’ Damian Lillard trade.

No. 1: Shaedon Sharpe

Perhaps no Trail Blazer has done as much to cement their status this season as a central piece of the franchise’s rebuild as Shaedon Sharpe.

During Simons’ 19-game absence, the 20-year-old Sharpe stepped in admirably as the team’s lead creator. Over a five-game span between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11, Sharpe posted per-game averages of 26.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists on 53/46/80 shooting splits.

Sharpe took the reins of Portland’s pick-and-roll offense. With the ball in his hands, he demonstrated impressive progress as a pick-and-roll operator, punishing drop coverage with his mid-range jumper, using screens to generate off-the-dribble threes, and even making the correct pocket pass or skip pass.

Sharpe’s growth as a ball handler is perhaps the most promising sign in his development. As a rookie, his eye-popping athleticism and versatile jump shot stood out as signs of his tantalizing potential, but a loose handle prevented him from expanding his on-ball role. This season, an improved handle has allowed Sharpe to operate pick-and-rolls and diversify his game as a scorer.


Although Sharpe’s growth bodes well for his long-term trajectory, his offensive effectiveness has waxed and waned throughout the season. At times, Sharpe has slumped shooting the ball, and he hasn’t developed the effectiveness as a driver and playmaker to make up for shooting deficiencies.

Sharpe still has room to grow as a shooter and as a decision-maker, but compared to where he was developmentally when he entered the league, his progress bodes well for the future of the Blazers. Alongside Simons, Sharpe has solidified his status as a franchise building block.