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Trent Jr. Leads the Way for the Blazers’ Young Core

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie praised Gary Trent Jr’s growth in his look at the best young cores in the NBA.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Trail Blazers’ unlikely rally during CJ McCollum’s absence is fueled by Damian Lillard’s stellar production and Portland’s cast of young contributors. Gary Trent Jr., a third-year guard out of Duke, has led the way for the Blazers’ surprisingly impactful supporting cast.

In The Athletic’s breakdown of promising young cores, Trent countered Zach Collins’ absence and kept the Blazers near their previous position in the rankings. The list from The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie moved the Blazers down one spot to No. 25 on the list.

Vecenie focused on both Trent and Collins in his analysis.

The Blazers drop a spot here as some of their youngsters seem to have stagnated a touch. One guy who hasn’t, though, is Trent. Given his positional value, he’s pretty clearly the team’s top prospect moving forward, and the Blazers are looking at having to plunk down eight figures per year to retain him this summer. He’s an elite shooter with great strength for his position who battles defensively and is the perfect 3-and-D wing to put next to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Collins is a very useful defensive player whose instinctual awareness in help situations is terrific from both the four and the five positions. He also provides some real toughness. I think he’s a long-term five because his perimeter skills aren’t developed enough as a passer or ballhandler, and his jumper is still a bit too inconsistent. Unfortunately, he hasn’t gotten a chance to showcase improvement upon many of those skills due to a pair of ankle surgeries in September and December. He’s going to miss a majority of this season.

Through 25 outings this season, Trent is averaging 15 points per game and connecting on 44.4 percent of his three-point attempts.

You can check out the first segment of Vecenie’s rankings at The Athletic (subscription required).