Sharife Cooper is far and away the best playmaker in the 2021 NBA draft class.
Having assisted on over 50% of Auburn''s points, Sharife also boasts and incredible AST/TO ratio of 1.94, leading all major conferences in assists with 8.2 per game. Even this number sells Sharife short with a lot of teammates missing wide open looks. On an NBA floor, with NBA spacing, Sharife can work wonders.
Cooper is an extremely high IQ player and can seemingly read defenses with ease. He has excellent anticipation in the PnR and nearly always makes the right decision.
He is excellent at throwing up lobs at the rim and can wreak havoc with a high quality rim runner. He does this with complete confidence and even in high pressure clutch situations.
Cooper is also great at transition offense: he is extremely quick and takes advantage of recovering defenses to set up rim running teammates with lobs or bullet passes.
He makes flashy passes look easy and effective. He often launches one-handed passes to open shooters for corner threes. He can throw bounce passes to teammates in crowded areas and whip left handed bullets around defenders to Bigs waiting in the paint. He can quickly notice help defenders sagging off their man and immediately make the right pass before the defender can get into position to contest. He often gets to the basket and draws multiple defenders which allows him to throw passes to open shooters whether they be in the corner of behind him at the wings.
Cooper has an elite handle and showcases an array of moves to get past defenses. He has a quick first step and can blow by bigger players with ease. He makes use of his elite footwork and quick change of pace+direction to create space for himself.
Cooper often went all the way to the basket but had poor finishing at the rim. This could, in part, be attributed to his size as he can find himself smothered by rim protecting bigs. He is, however, elite at drawing contact in the paint: racking up 8.6 FTA per game, of which he comfortably knocked down 82.5%. This helped in raising his scoring numbers quite a bit.
He is stronger than he looks and can occasionally finish through contact. He has a good-looking floater that can raise his finishing numbers if only he resorted to it more.
Cooper''s biggest concern on the offensive end is his jumper. He shot only 39.1% from the field and 22.8% from 3. His form is a bit weird: he has a slow release that could be problematic at a higher level with defenders having quicker closeouts. He leans backwards on his shot to give it a higher angle but this also contributes to his slow release. He has the same form while shooting free throws and he knocks those down efficiently so there could still be hope for his jumper to improve. Still, his misses are pretty random and not of a specific type.
His size leaves much to be demanded on the defensive end where most players can simply shoot over him. Cooper, however, doesn''t show any lack of effort and consistently tries to bother his assignment. He has great lateral quickness and can stick with his man throughout. He keeps his hands active and continuously swipes at the ball for a possible steal. He isn''t hesitant to take charges and puts himself in positions to do so.
Ultimately, he is a defensive liability because of his size and is a negative on that end of the floor.
Sharife needs to work on his jumper if he is to play regular minutes as a starter in the NBA. If he sorts out his jumper, he is a potential future All-Star.
His playmaking, decision making and overall basketball IQ make him a possible late lottery pick but a more realistic estimate for him would be in the 16-24 range.