No. 2: Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers
Cam Thomas was a late pick who is blossoming to start the season; Shaedon Sharpe was the No. 7 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and has done nothing but show off his impressive scoring ability and athleticism. Leaving Sharpe off the list was the single largest mistake made by the ESPN committee.
Despite losing his running mates to injury in the early going, Sharpe has been tremendous for the Trail Blazers. He is leading the league in minutes per game and is shouldering a massive offensive load as a 20-year-old. He is averaging 19.9 points per game, 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists while also being an impact defender. His game-saving block of Luke Kennard’s triple in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies was one of the highlights of the year:
Sharpe slipped a few spots in the draft last year because he was an unknown, a player with theoretical upside but without the tape to put general managers at ease. Portland took the swing and was rewarded with a player on track to make multiple All-Star teams during his career.
The idea that Jalen Green or Tyler Herro made the list over Sharpe is mind-boggling; Green is inexcusable, and Herro only makes sense if you’re looking at the right now instead of the future, as Sharpe should continue to develop and has already proven himself on defense, something that can’t be said for Herro or Green.