The Trail Blazers added another teenage guard to their backcourt rotation tonight by acquiring the NBA Draft rights to Gary Trent Jr. in the 2018 NBA Draft. Despite falling into the second round, the Duke guard is a skilled shooter that was worthy of first-round consideration.
With the trade officially announced, Steve Dewald provides a closer look at how Trent’s presence will impact the Blazers.
A Stellar Shooter On A Crowded Roster
Trent is a skilled offensive player at just 19 years of age. His slide into the second round is likely tied to two major factors. First, he was competing for time in the spotlight inside a talented starting five at Duke. Second, he displayed a less-than-stellar defensive effort last season.
Trent’s age suggests he is a project, but his three-point shot will translate to the NBA immediately. Armed with the body of a fully-developed professional athlete, the sturdy guard should be able to avoid hitting the “rookie wall”.
Portland will have to make a decision on Pat Connaughton’s future this summer. Trent has the skills and size to compete for the role that the former Notre Dame standout filled for the Blazers last season. Connaughton played 18.1 minutes a game and shot 35.2 percent from beyond the arc in the 2017-18 season. Trent’s three-point percentage (40.2) and free throw percentage (87.6) suggest that he will have a decent chance of surpassing Connaughton’s production.
First-round pick Anfernee Simons will also be an option, but Trent is better equipped to make the short-term jump to the NBA.
Get Ready For Vegas
It might seem trivial, but the combination of Simons and Trent will make the Blazers entertaining at Las Vegas Summer League. Unlike last year’s post-heavy squad, this year’s group will feature a pair of offensively-gifted guards.
If Wade Baldwin joins the youngsters in Las Vegas, it will give Portland’s coaching staff an early look at the battle for reserve minutes. If the trio performs well, it could temper the Blazers’ offseason search for veteran backcourt players.
Outside of roster competition, guard play will be crucial to Portland’s interior players to flourish on the offensive end. Spacing the floor for Caleb Swanigan’s post game will be an early litmus test for Trent.
A proven shooter selected in the early stages of the second round—sound familiar? President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has a history of finding value in the early stages of the second round. Long before Allen Crabbe signed his cap-busting extension, he was a surprisingly useful second-round pick.
Without the expectations attached to a large salary, Trent’s useful skills should make him a fan favorite in Portland.
Be sure to check out Trent’s Draft Profile for a more detailed breakdown of his strengths and weaknesses.