Some say Auburn point guard Sharife Cooper is undersized at 6’1″ and 180 pounds, but the New York Knicks view him as an elite facilitator who could take their offense to the next level. Averaging 20.2 points, 8.1 assists, and shooting 39% from the field last year, the young Georgia native has the potential to change the course of the team.
The Knicks havenâ€™t officially worked Cooper out just yet, but have quietly been doing their research to gauge if he is a solid fit. Cooper was one of the more productive freshmen in the entire country, and despite his lack of size, plays with incredible confidence that inspires his teammates. While his lack of physicality can hurt him at times, specifically when driving to the rim, some of these weaknesses will take time to iron out the next level. ESPN has him projected as a pick and roll playmaker out of the gates, utilizing his elite handles and ability to create shots for his teammates.
â€œTheyâ€™re gathering a lot of information about him,â€ a source told Ian Begley of SNY.
If Cooper’s statistics don’t open your eyes, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl simply couldn’t stop raving to Alder Almo of Empire Sports Media about the young point guard:
â€œSharife is a once-every-ten-year fast-breaking, playmaking, transition, and ball-screen floor general with his ability to make plays for himself and others,â€ Pearl said.
Auburn assistant coach Ira Bowman told ESM that Cooper has specific traits you simply can’t teach:
â€œSharife is a unique player. Iâ€™ve been in the SEC for five years but Iâ€™ve never seen anyone like him. Heâ€™s one of the hardest-working kids Iâ€™ve been around and heâ€™s a sponge for the game. He has certain God-given gifts that you canâ€™t teach. His ball-handling, his passing, his vision, his leadership are unparalleled.â€
Ultimately, the front office will be doing plenty of research on young point guards in the draft, including Cooper, Davion Mitchell, and Tre Mann. Free agency will also be flush with options to consider; trades have been mentioned over the past few weeks as well. However, if the Knicks are prioritizing a facilitator who can get the ball to their playmakers and also create himself, Cooper could be the future at a position that has desperately needed an upgrade for quite some time.
That doesnâ€™t mean Sharife is all strengths — he only shot 23% from three-point last season, but most believe he is a far better shooter than his statistical output indicates. Players like Mitchell Robinson would benefit greatly from having a point guard with his type of vision, being compared to elite players like Chris Paul and Trae Young during his evaluations.
What do you think about the concept of drafting Sharife Cooper, who could be available with the 19th overall pick? Comment below!