The Trail Blazers offseason is upon us, and the 2018 NBA Draft will provide Portland with an opportunity to supplement its roster with a talented youngster. With only the No. 24 pick at their disposal on draft night, the Blazers will look to strike gold by finding an NBA-worthy prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Duke shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. will be under the microscope for today’s evaluation.
Gary Trent Jr.
- Height: 6’6”
- Weight: 215
- Wingspan: 6’9”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: SG
- Age: 19
- Projected draft range: 21-49
- PPG: 14.5 | Per 40: 17.2
- APG: 1.4 | Per 40: 1.7
- RPG: 4.2 | Per 40: 5.0
- STL: 1.2 | Per 40: 1.4
- FG%: 41.5
- 3P%: 40.2
- FT%: 87.6
Armed with a compact and fundamentally-sound outside shot, Gary Trent Jr. projects to be a proficient three-point shooter from the moment he steps on an NBA court. Thanks to a quick release, the 19-year-old will be able to create offense through catch-and-shoot and step-back opportunities. After attempting 6.5 three-point shots per game as a freshman at Duke, it is safe to put stock in his outside scoring prowess going forward. Trent Jr.’s outside shot isn’t the only thing that is NBA ready, as his sturdy 215-pound frame will hold up well in a grueling 82-game NBA schedule. Thanks to his size at shooting guard, the former Blue Devil is an excellent pound-for-pound rebounder. While his defense lags behind his offense, Trent Jr. has all the tools to become a better defender as he matures.
Despite recording impressive numbers at young age, Trent Jr. won’t be mistaken for an elite-level athlete. Outside of getting to the free throw line, Trent Jr. is far from an impactful offensive player inside the paint. To be considered a true threat from all three levels, he must learn a way to offset his lack of explosiveness with crafty timing. Outside of his physical limitations, Trent Jr. has a sizable learning curve when facing the nuances of professional play. His biggest hurdle on offense will come down to his willingness as a passer, as the 19-year-old too often opted for contested shots instead of moving the ball to his teammates. Defensively, Trent Jr. must bring the same level of offensive intensity to the defensive end to harness his true potential as a 3-and-D prospect.
With Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. headlining as Duke’s premier freshmen, it was easy to lose Trent Jr. in the shuffle. Despite a modest amount of recognition, the talented shooting guard trailed only Bagley III and Grayson Allen in scoring for the Blue Devils. Along with leading the ACC in three-point percentage, Trent Jr. dropped 30 points on Miami in a conference meeting in mid-January. Duke’s run to the Elite Eight featured four double-digit scoring efforts from their 19-year-old shooting guard.
Outside shooting ability will get Trent Jr. minutes early on in his career, but his development in other areas will be crucial in his quest to become more than just a niche player. Nearly every NBA offense requires some level of floor spacing, which will put the former Duke guard’s services in demand. Offensively Trent Jr. is a high-floor prospect with an obvious ceiling, but he could unlock an impressive overall ceiling by evolving into a competent defender. Without growth in other areas, he still projects as a player who will be able to stick in the NBA for an extended amount of time. Due to shooting talents, Trent Jr. could easily be used on both ends of the spectrum in crunch time. His free throw shooting will help preserve leads, and his outside shooting will help close margins when his team is trailing.
Don’t let Trent Jr.’s status as a one-and-done prospect fool you, as he is very much a player that could fit into a “win now” model for the Blazers. If Portland decides to bring back the majority of their current group, Trent Jr. would be a nice supplemental addition as a floor spacer. Trent Jr. could act as a safety valve for Damian Lillard when teams bring extra pressure, and he will be able to keep his man away from Jusuf Nurkic with his floor spacing. Selecting the former Blue Devil would provide insurance for a potential Pat Connaughton departure, and Trent Jr. would give coach Terry Stotts a more reliable offensive option than Wade Baldwin IV.
Selecting Trent Jr. would also provide the Blazers with a bit of history. His father, Gary Trent, was immediately traded to Portland from Milwaukee on the night of the 1995 NBA Draft. Trent played in 192 games over his 3 seasons in the Pacific North West, and he was later featured in the trade package that brought Damon Stoudamire back to his hometown. If Trent Jr. lands with the Blazers, the Trents will become the first father-son tandem to suit up in red and black.
Do you want to see Trent Jr. in a Trail Blazers jersey next season? What prospect would you like to see us highlight next? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com