The Trail Blazers’ re-tooled bubble roster set the stage for Gary Trent Jr. to step into the spotlight in crucial moments. While the sweet-shooting guard makes headlines on offense, his defense has delivered a lifeline to an often toothless defense. For his work on the wing, CBS Sports NBA contributor Colin Ward-Henninger labelled Trent as the Blazers’ postseason x-factor.
Ward-Henninger explained that Trent’s defense combines with Portland’s lack of depth to make him a crucial part of the Blazers’ hopes against the Lakers.
They’ll also need Trent to show up defensively, as one of the few reliable wings at Portland’s disposal — no offense to Mario Hezonja. The Blazers have been atrocious on defense in the bubble, but they’ve been much better with Trent on the court, giving up 127.4 points per 100 possessions with him on the bench, compared to 115.3 with Trent in the game.
Trent’s defensive presence was on full display during the Blazers’ victory over the Grizzlies on Saturday. With a postseason spot on the line, the former Duke standout recorded five steals and two blocks in 35 minutes of action.
Ward-Henninger’s full breakdown of postseason x-factors at CBS Sports.