With the NBA restart in Orlando set to begin at the end of this month, The Athletic’s John Hollinger highlighted Portland Trail Blazers wing Gary Trent Jr. as a player to watch.
Hollinger noted that with the absence of Trevor Ariza, fourth-quarter wing duties could fall on the second-year player.
With Trevor Ariza taking a pass on the Bubble Experience, it’s Trent’s time to move up in the world. The 6-6 wing may well be the Blazers’ fourth-quarter option at small forward given that he’s the only remaining perimeter player on the roster who can decently defend and also shoots 38.8 percent from 3.
Hollinger wrote that he’s been high on Trent since he was at Duke, and while it’s a tough ask to expect him to jump into the starter role now, he’s the best option compared to one other Blazer on the team: Carmelo Anthony.
Portland’s likely other option here is to play Carmelo Anthony at the 3, which would be … suboptimal. The Blazers’ 27th-ranked defense is already stretched to the breaking point with two offense-first guards and the returning Zach Collins masquerading as a 4; asking Melo to chase one wing while CJ McCollum acts as the “stopper” against the better one would likely prove disastrous.
(Random aside while we’re talking about Portland: Keep an eye on recent signee Jaylen Adams as backcourt depth. Nobody talks about this, but Anfernee Simons was horrid this year – statistically one of the worst players in the league at a jaw-dropping 4.7 points per 100 worse than replacement level, and highly torchable defensively in particular. Do the Blazers have the stones to cut bait on the promising 21-year-old while they make a playoff push? Maybe not. But if so, Adams is the guy who will get a shot, and he was pretty good in the G-League this year.)
You can read about the other players Hollinger will be watching here.