The NBA announced yesterday the list of players that will be attending the NBA Draft Combine which will commence next week. Among those players in attendance will be former UNC forward Day’Ron Sharpe, who declared for the NBA shortly after the 2020-21 season concluded. Sharpe decided to leave North Carolina after his freshman season, after averaging 9.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in 29 games. His impressive play earned him All-ACC Freshman honors. His decision to leave the program was announced before Roy Williams retired, and Sharpe was one of five post players to exit the program. Walker Kessler, Sterling Manley, Garrison Brooks, and Walker Miler all entered the transfer portal, as the Tar Heels frontcourt went from the team's strength to the team's biggest needs in a matter of days. Armando Bacot had once entered his name for the NBA Draft but has made it known that he will be back for his junior season in 2021-22.
When Sharpe declared for the NBA, the expectation was that he would be a first-round selection. Despite being a back to the basket player, his rebounding ability, plus overall upside made Sharpe’s decision to leave much easier. As we sit less than a week away from the Combine, it appears Sharpe has work to do if he does want to be a first-round selection. Neither Bleacher Report, ESPN or CBS Sports currently have Sharpe mocked as a first-round selection (Bleacher Report and ESPN both have him 31st respectively). Sharpe will have a full week to impress NBA personnel, here is how he can help turn himself into a first-round selection.
We saw plenty of times last year Sharpe make on point passes in traffic for baskets for Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks, and the like. He has a good feel of how to deliver an entry pass from either the wing or the elbow. Today’s NBA is all about versatile bigs that impact the game in more ways than just scoring and rebounding. Point forwards aren’t as common today as they were back when Scottie Pippen made the position popular in the ’90s, but Draymond Green does a lot for Golden State offense with the ball in his hands. Nikola Jokic was recently crowned the MVP of the NBA and also initiates a lot of offense for the Denver Nuggets despite being a center. And then there’s Julius Randle who was the heart of soul of the Knicks turnaround, scoring and assisting as a forward. I’m not saying or even comparing Sharpe to any of these All-Pro caliber players, but if Sharpe can display the ability to handle the ball, and read NBA defenses while making the same plays he made in college, his stock will climb.
Sharpe proved himself to be a quality team defender, rotating when necessary, and helping UNC protect the rim. In college, there aren’t a lot of times defenders find themselves on an island defensively, but that’s not the case at the next level. With the game being all about floor spacing, defenders find themselves isolated more often than not, especially on the perimeter. Sharpe who stands at 6-11, and weighs 265 pounds, has the footwork, and athleticism to be an elite defender if he commits to doing so. At the Combine, Sharpe will partake in 5 on 5 actions, among other drills that will test his defensive abilities. Meaning he has another way to impress NBA front offices.
Face Up Offensive Game:
Lastly, Sharpe needs to display a more modern offensive game, as the NBA wants bigs that spread the floor, and have a face up game. Last year Sharpe made a living scoring his baskets off of offensive rebounds, or post moves with his back to the basket. He rarely took a face up jump shot, let alone taking a three-pointer. Overall, Sharpe’s shooting will need to be overhauled as his mechanics aren’t where they need to be, but his game never required him to shoot the basketball away from the basket. Had Sharpe stayed in college there was a chance he would’ve already developed a mid-range game as UNC has incorporated that into their system in the last several years. Nonetheless, his upside lies in his offensive potential, if he displays the ability or the willingness to continue to develop, he may convince a team in the first round to takes the flyer on him.
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