Gary Trent Jr went into his sophomore season in the NBA off the back of averaging 2.7 points in 15 games, on 32% shooting, as a rookie. After being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 37th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Trent Jr struggled to adapt to the professional ranks, with limited opportunities.
However, an opportunity presented to him as a rookie was an assignment in the NBA G League in January 2019. Due to the Trail Blazers not having a G League affiliate, Trent Jr was sent to the Texas Legends for developmental purposes.
It did soon become apparent that he was an extremely skilled guard, boasting a similar scoring skill-set to his NBA teammates Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Through 6 games with the Legends, he posted impressive averages of 33.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.7 steals. On 50.4% shooting from the field and 50% from 3-point land. The latter was a league-leading statistic.
His impressive performances earned a call-up back to the NBA, where he was a regular on Portland’s bench for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, playing limited minutes. Before featuring in 48 minutes of the Trail Blazers’ final regular season game against the Sacramento Kings on April 11, 2019. Where he scored 19 points, whilst adding 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 steal.
In the 2019-20 campaign, Trent Jr solidified his place in the Trail Blazers’ rotation, averaging 8.9 points in 21.8 minutes per game and shooting 41.8% from 3-point land (9th-best in the league). Prior to the NBA bubble in Orlando, the 21-year-old had already passed the 20-point mark on 5 occasions. Including a 30-point outburst (66.7% FG) against the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 19.
Trent Jr’s Bubble Performances:
The 6-foot-5 guard’s performances then jumped to the next level as the season resumed in Disney World. Through the 8 remaining regular season games, Trent Jr averaged 16.8 points on 50.4% shooting, 48.9% from beyond the arc.
On August 7, he dropped 27 points in a vital win over the Denver Nuggets, whilst converting at a 70% rate from 3. He was a pivotal piece that helped lead Portland to a playoff birth, via a play-in game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
His first taste of playoff basketball came with a first-round match-up against the high-flying Los Angeles Lakers. Through 5 games, Trent Jr averaged 9.6 points and 2 rebounds, as the Lakers advanced 4-1. Even though he shoot 35.2% from the field, he did hit 40.2% of his 3-point attempts.
Trent Jr has finished the 2nd year of a 3-year minimum deal, which gives Portland incredible value going into his contract season. He’s a prime example of greater opportunity providing greater numbers. Something that he maintained throughout the entirety of the 2019-20 season, not just in the bubble.
It wasn’t just on the offensive end too. Trent Jr was effective on defense, bringing energy and showing off the ability to switch well, covering multiple positions. If he continues his form next season, he will definitely command a much higher salary.
At just 21-years-old, Gary Trent Jr is building a solid reputation as a high-volume scorer off the bench. As well as an elite 3-point shooter.