Nets Day’Ron Sharpe working out kinks, finding feel for NBA game

Day'Ron Sharpe Brooklyn Nets
Jan 7, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Day’Ron Sharpe (20) drives past Milwaukee Bucks center Luke Kornet (35) in the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Day’Ron Sharpe called it a dream to find himself in the Nets starting lineup, one that he didn’t expect to come true this season. COVID and injuries allowed Sharpe the chance to get into the Nets lineup and starting five, and his play on the court has kept him there.

Wednesday marked his fifth consecutive start and it marked the third straight game that Sharpe had put up double figures. Through his five-game run Sharpe has averaged 12 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 blocked shot.

“I don’t think I was going to start this season at all,” Sharpe said. “I thought I was going to come off the bench. Provide a little spark off the bench, but I wasn’t expecting to start. … It’s a dream playing in the NBA, starting in the NBA, definitely the first year on a championship-contending team. Not just being able to start but actually being able to help the team. I’m not just on the court I’m actually trying to help the team where I’m actually doing productive things. It’s a good feeling.”

Sharpe has had quite the ride this year. He was pegged to be someone who would come off the bench from time to time and work on developing his game this year.

Through the first 35 games of the season, Sharpe appeared in 11 and the most time on the court he saw was on Dec. 16 against the Toronto Raptors when he logged 13:21 off the bench. Now Day’Ron Sharpe has turned into a regular in the lineup and has played in the last eight games for Brooklyn.

Nets head coach Steve Nash said that since he first met Sharpe he’s seen the biggest growth in his understanding of the NBA game.

“He has more of a feel for the actions,” Nash said. “They are different than college, there is way more space. You have to cover territories. You gotta cover people in space. You gotta be able to recover to athletic, talented people that have a slight advantage and try to close down that advantage. That’s a lot different than college, so I think he’s done a good job of finding some of those reads.

“Uses his physicality, but also uses intelligence. I think he has a good feel for that stuff. It’s coming along quickly for a young because he does have a natural feel for some of those things. … Seeing him adapt to the technical aspects of the NBA game has been the biggest jump since we met him.”

Sharpe has certainly turned heads with his play, but the 20-year-old is still adjusting to one aspect of the NBA. And he isn’t shy about talking about what it is either.

“Trying not to foul,” Sharpe responded when asked about the biggest adjustment has been. “A lot of things like, in the restricted area if someone is driving in I gotta jump. I ain’t know that, so I got a foul called the other night. It’s just like, I stop fouling so much. I don’t think it’s a foul, but they called it a foul. I just gotta find a way to be a fit on defense like I am and not foul.”

Sharpe has been getting some help with that from fellow big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who had a big 27-point effort on Wednesday. Aldridge, who didn’t miss the chance to poke fun at the rookie, did note that a lot of Sharpe’s fouls have come from him reaching in and not jumping.

“I think coming from college you play with your chest and it’s just a totally different game,” Aldridge said. “It’s just a different dynamic. So here just trying to tell him don’t reach and try to keep your hands up. Go vertical. Just things like that, but he’s been great. Everything I’ve tried to tell him he’s been soaking it up to get better.”