Nets: Day’Ron Sharpe’s Summer League play has earned rotation spot

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 05: Day'Ron Sharpe #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 05: Day'Ron Sharpe #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets were able to reload with some mouth-watering talent in the 2021 NBA Draft, as a few draft-day trades helped Sean Marks net five draft picks. The highlights were two first-round selections in LSU’s Cameron Thomas and UNC’s Day’Ron Sharpe.

Sharpe, picked No. 29 overall, was finally unveiled for the masses during a Summer League debut against the Memphis Grizzlies, and while Reggie Perry got the start over him, the Carolina big man showed off exactly why the Nets were tripping over themselves to get the opportunity to draft him.

Sharpe is a 6-11 center that weighs over 250 pounds, but he is more than just an old-school bruiser, as he has the ability to defend multiple positions and run the floor. Those talents were on full display against Memphis, and it showed that he may not need time in the G League.

The powerful big scored six points and grabbed eight rebounds with one block in just 14 minutes of play, making him a team-high +14 at the end of the Nets’ 91-84 loss. If he can continue making himself known like this, there is no reason why he shouldn’t fight for minutes in the rotation.

Will Day’Ron Sharpe earn rotation time with the Brooklyn Nets?

Sharpe’s style of play is much needed in Brooklyn, as one of the reasons that Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks were able to take them down in the postseason was the fact that the Nets lacked depth on the interior. Sharpe could go a long way towards fixing that.

Blake Griffin is the nominal starter, but at this point in his career, he is a very limited player on the defensive end in the post. Nicolas Claxton could stand to add some weight, while DeAndre Jordan was so ineffective he fell out of the rotation completely. The last time we saw Perry as a rookie, even average bigs were cooking him.

If we account for the fact Sharpe only played 19 minutes per game at UNC and extrapolate his averages out to 40 minutes per game, Sharpe averaged just under 16 rebounds per game. In the limited amount of time we saw him in college, he made a huge difference.

Summer League is a time to both flex your muscles and show off your strengths while also proving to the team that some of the bigger pre-draft questions have been fixed. With Sharpe already looking like an A+ rebounder, the Nets can feel safe in assuming his skill at the collegiate ranks in that area will transfer.

Sharpe’s flaws coming out of college stemmed from his apparent lack of a varied offensive game outside of the paint. With his rebounding, interior defense, and team play having been exhibited at the Summer League level, showing off a more efficient and effective jump shot would be a great way to win more fans in the Nets’ building.

To start the year, Sharpe will likely be behind Griffin and Claxton. However, if he’s ahead of schedule from a developmental point of view, the Nets might be able to unveil some bigger lineups with Sharpe at center and either Griffin or Claxton at power forward. Defensively, this could be a fun new wrinkle.

The Nets haven’t always had the best of luck drafting bigs near the end of the first round (Chris McCullough, anyone?), but Sharpe looks different, given how he can impact the game in so many ways. If he starts scoring at a high volume in Vegas, he can prove that the Nets have to give him some burn in the rotation.

Between Sharpe and Cameron Thomas, the Nets are setting themselves up well if Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden are hurt.