After spending a season at Auburn, Sharife Cooper will enter the 2021 NBA Draft. While he had a very strong season with the Tigers, his season was shortened due to complications with the NCAA along with injuries. Now Cooper will have to prove that he can play at the NBA level after not playing in many games at Auburn last season.
Sharife Cooper 2021 NBA Draft Profile
Cooper was a five-star recruit from McEachern High School in Marietta, Georgia. He spent one year at Auburn and averaged 20.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 8.1 assists across 33.1 minutes per contest. Cooper is one of seven players to average 20+ points and more than eight assists in college over the last 25 years. As a result of his strong play, he was named to the SEC All-Freshman team in a conference with many great freshman guards. Cooper scored in double figures in every game he played in and Auburn went 5-7 with him in the lineup last season. He played his last game with Auburn in late February this year before spraining his ankle in practice.
Cooper is one of the younger prospects in this year’s NBA Draft at 19 years old and certainly one of the more intriguing prospects. The thing that stands out the most about Cooper’s game is his playmaking ability. He is very good at creating for himself and his teammates. The 8.1 assists per game that he averaged last year at Auburn reflects that. Furthermore, Cooper plays with great pace and has a solid handle that enables him to get anywhere on the court.
Another strong aspect in Cooper’s game is his ability to finish at the rim and draw fouls. As someone who draws a ton of fouls, it also helps that he is an excellent free-throw shooter. Cooper attempted 8.6 foul shots per game last season and converted on 82.5 percent of his attempts.
The most glaring weakness in Cooper’s game is his shooting. He struggles to make outside shots and takes too many difficult shots. His shooting percentages last reflect that as Cooper only shot 39.1 percent from the field and 22.8 percent on three-pointers. His shooting and shot selection must improve if he wants to have a successful career in the NBA.
Another weakness in Cooper’s game is that he gets careless at times and turns the ball over. His 4.3 turnovers per game average at Auburn reflect that. Cooper is a very ball-dominant player and will need to cut down on his turnovers and take care of the ball. It also doesn’t that he is not a great off-ball player who can’t space the floor.
Another factor as to why NBA teams will potentially pass up on drafting Cooper is his size. With Cooper being undersized as a point guard standing at 6-feet-1, he could be a target on defense for opposing players. While he is adequate on defense, he struggles to guard taller players.
While Cooper has been compared to Chris Paul by many people because of his size and playmaking ability, there isn’t a good direct comparison to an NBA player with regards to Cooper. There are many contrasting aspects between Cooper and Paul such as his outside shooting and his defense. Unlike Cooper, Paul was an excellent outside shooter and defender in college.
2021 NBA Draft Projection
Mid first round to late first round.
Main Image: Embed from Getty Images