There were two questions most Denver Nuggets fans probably asked themselves when they heard about the Arron Afflalo trade. What did we give up and who is Walter Sharpe?
So who is Walter Sharpe? He is a 6’9” forward who will be entering his second year out of UAB (Alabama – Birmingham) who was drafted with the thirty-second pick of the 2008 NBA Draft. He did not have an easy route to the NBA, partly through self inflicted injuries (academic issues, being late for things like practices and team flights) and others inflicted by external sources (being shot in the abdomen back in April 2006).
Those issues appear to be behind Sharpe now. I do not recall hearing about any issues during his season in Detroit and after a half hearted scouring of the internet I did not find any record of problems at UAB. Because of that we can focus on what he can do on the court instead of his actions off of it.
I happen to have some vintage footage of a 2008 NBA Summer League game from Las Vegas that featured none other than Walter Sharpe suiting up for the Detroit Pistons. Yes, I actually have several 2008 summer league games on DVD (I say CD on the video below, but do not hold it against me). Let me know if you are hard up for hoops and want a copy of one.
As I point out repeatedly Sharpe played power forward in college, but Detroit was working on transforming him into a small forward. Based on watching him I think it was the correct decision. Even less than a month after he was drafted, he showed the ability to play perimeter defense. His ball handling and passing was also very solid for a guy trying to fit into a new position. Wait until you see him shoot a jumper before you get too excited.
Sharpe will clearly not be contributing to the Nuggets in 2009-10 and honestly, he may never be an NBA rotation player. However, he has shown that he can play one on one perimeter defense. If he can learn to handle pick and roll defense better and iron out his shot, he does have a chance to become a rotation player. Obviously this footage is a year old so it is likely he has made strides in both departments. At this point the Nuggets have not added Sharpe to their summer league roster so we will not get a chance to observe him until training camp in October.