The Portland Trail Blazers acquired Duke University guard Gary Trent Jr. in a draft-night trade that felt like an afterthought. But he could be a steal.
Gary Trent Jr.
Listed at 6-foot-6, 209 pounds, Trent Jr. is virtually the same size as Crabbe and comes to the NBA with a ready-made three-point shot. In his lone season at Duke, the 19-year-old made 40.2 percent of his shots from deep.
Some of Trent Jr.’s other vitals: In 37 games (all of which he started), he averaged 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He also made 87.6 percent of his free throws.
Here’s what Blue Devils basketball guru Mike Krzyzewski had to say about Trent Jr.:
"Gary … is a man. He’s physically ready to play in the (NBA) and has shown with his three-point shooting ability that he can knock it down. He’s got a big upside, because he just played one year. He can really complement really good players. He can be an asset to a team right away, especially a playoff contender, because he can score the ball."
The Sacramento Kings selected Trent Jr. in the second round (37th overall). Then they traded him to Portland for a couple of future second-round draft picks.
Trent Jr.’s size will be a welcome addition to Portland’s lineup of undersized guards. His size and shooting ability likely means he’ll see consistent playing time before first-round pick Anfernee Simons does.
Trent Jr. vs. Crabbe
The comparisons between Trent Jr. and former Blazers guard Allen Crabbe are coming in fast; the two players are the same size and appear to have the same ability to shoot from three.
But in fact, Trent Jr. was a better three-point shooter in his one year at college (40.2 percent) than Crabbe was in three years at Cal (38.2 percent).
Crabbe was a better all-around player at California – although the differences aren’t that big. Crabbe averaged 15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.9 steals. He also shot a higher percentage from the field overall (44.6 percent) than Trent Jr. (41.5 percent).
The Duke Chronicle, the university’s student newspaper, argues that “after a season without Allen Crabbe, Portland’s already erratic production from beyond the arc was further hampered by a lack of depth. The former Blue Devil could give head coach Terry Stotts some quick production off the bench against teams struggling to hold the perimeter.”
Our FanSided partners over at Thunderous Intentions think Trent Jr.’s potential “should fall somewhere between Allen Crabbe and Klay Thompson, depending on how he develops on the defensive side of the ball.”
Portland’s President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey said the draft “is about acquiring talent. … You hope those players become assets.”
As a first-round pick, Simons is getting most of the attention. But it’s often those second-round acquisitions who surprise everybody by contributing in a big way to a team’s success.
Crabbe was a second-round pick. His shooting ability and defensive potential made him a valuable asset, indeed. So when the Blazers traded him to the Brooklyn Nets last July, the move left Portland with a hole on offense.
Trent Jr. will be tasked with filling that hole — not to mention filling up the basket with a bunch of long-range threes. If he can adjust to the NBA game — as his ol’ ball coach Krzyzewski insists that he can — then he’ll stretch defenses out, opening up the court for the Blazers offense to operate.
And if he can add some grit and toughness to his defensive game, then the comparisons to Crabbe may cease to matter at all. Especially since young Trent Jr.’s contract won’t eat a giant hole of its own in Portland’s drum-tight budget.