Grading the picks: How analysts view Kentucky’s first-round NBA Draft selections

·4 min read
Silas Walker/swalker@herald-leader.com

Kentucky had two first-round NBA Draft picks Thursday night — if you’re inclined to include none-and-done wing Shaedon Sharpe.

Many in the Big Blue Nation wouldn’t elect to include Sharpe on the list, but UK and the NBA do, and he and TyTy Washington both heard their names called in New York.

Sharpe was selected at No. 7 by the Portland Trail Blazers. The Houston Rockets added Washington at No. 29 via a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Here is how some NBA analysts viewed those picks:

Shaedon Sharpe

A+ by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor: “Sharpe might be risky in the short term, but this is a tremendous get for the Blazers. ... He has an extremely high ceiling and could have been in the running to be the top pick if he hadn’t sat out last season at Kentucky. ... Long term he could be the best scorer in this draft.”

B+ by Kyle Irving of the Sporting News: “It was reported by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony that Damian Lillard liked Sharpe’s potential and the All-Star guard gets his wish. Even though the Blazers are in win-now mode and Sharpe hasn’t played competitively since high school, there is no better player for Sharpe to learn from than Lillard. ... He’ll give Portland a microwave scorer off the bench from Day 1.”

B+ by Gary Parrish of CBS Sports: ”This pick is interesting because it seems with the Jerami Grant trade that the Blazers are trying to get good now. And Sharpe is an interesting fit from that perspective. But few players in this class have higher ceilings than him.”

B by Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report: “Interesting. The Blazers, who need as much win-now talent as anyone as they try to rapidly retool around 31-year-old Damian Lillard, just spent a top-10 pick on someone who hasn’t played a game in a year. Then again, they also just snagged someone with a sky-high ceiling at both ends, so it’s hard to complain.”

B by Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports: “Sharpe is the biggest question mark of the draft and will need additional time to adjust to the NBA’s pace and spacing after not logging a single minute at Kentucky. If the Trail Blazers are patient, Sharpe might have ended up in the perfect situation playing alongside Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons in the backcourt.”

B by Brad Rowland of Uproxx: “With all of the talk about Portland using this pick for present-day help, Sharpe is a bit of a curveball, but perhaps the aim for ready-made contributors was lessened by the acquisition of Jerami Grant. In Sharpe, the Blazers are taking an upside swing on a player that was No. 1 in the 2022 high school class before reclassifying.”

TyTy Washington

B by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor: “It makes sense for the Rockets to find a game-managing point guard after letting Kevin Porter Jr. run the show last season. KPJ has value in his own way but he’s not someone who can settle down an offense like Washington could.”

B by Kyle Irving of the Sporting News: “This is a great value pick by the Rockets, who could use more guard depth. Washington was once considered a top-10 pick in this draft class before injuries and inconsistency derailed his freshman season at Kentucky.”

A+ by Gary Parrish of CBS Sports: ”The best prospect available finally comes off. Washington proved he can play point guard and off the ball, which makes him incredibly versatile.”

B+ by Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report: “If Washington has more to his game than he showed in college (as Kentucky guards have been wont to do on occasion), then the Rockets could have found a steal. ... He has every inside-the-arc pull-up shot in his bag, and there are flashes of outside-the-arc pull-ups, too.”

B+ by Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports: “Washington played off the ball at Kentucky and developed further as a secondary ball-handler and is one of the quickest players in this draft.”

A- by Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report: “It was a tumble for Washington, but this is a nice landing spot, all things considered. ... He is kind of a tweener as a combo guard, but Washington’s skill level is high and he can stick in Houston.”

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