Gary Trent Jr.’s role for the Portland Trail Blazers next year

Portland Trail Blazers Gary Trent Jr. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers Gary Trent Jr. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Could Gary Trent Jr. find his way into the Portland Trail Blazers’ rotation next year?

Although the Portland Trail Blazers had a largely disappointing Summer League on a team level, there were a few bright spots. Most notable was the play of 2018 first round pick Anfernee Simons, who was named to the Summer League 2nd team for his efforts.

However, there was another Blazer who showcased some high level potential in Las Vegas. Simons’ draft class mate and 2018 second round pick Gary Trent Jr. was also able to flash his scoring ability, especially shooting from deep.

So what exactly did Trent show, and could that lead to him cracking the rotation?

Trent was able to show a larger sample size than Simons, playing in all five Summer League games. Over this period, he averaged 20.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game on 41% shooting from the field.

Trent’s greatest strength has consistently been his three point shooting, most evident against the Rockets where he was 7/8 from behind the arc. He can hit shots from a variety of situations, whether it be catch and shoot, or off the dribble.

Something Trent also showed was an increased playmaking ability. Coming out of Duke, he was essentially a zero when it came to finding teammates, but seems to improved his court awareness  and is getting better at understanding how to get others baskets.

Both his shotmaking and distribution were on display against Houston in the highlight clip below.

Trent also showed surprising deftness in the mid range, especially when it came to tough shot making. He has a nice bag of tricks that allow him to get the requisite space off for these shots, and makes a surprising number of them.

Despite the nice things that Trent was able to bring to the table, there are still some major concerns surrounding his game. His decision making as a whole was pretty bad, both for himself and others.

That mid range game I gave praise to earlier? Sure it is nice when the shots fall, but it is one of the least efficient shots in basketball. And Trent has not seemed to figure out when to shoot and when to give the ball up. Those tough shots often result in bad misses that essentially waste possessions.

Additionally, while Trent attempts to create opportunities for his teammates, he can often try to make the pass a little too cute, or even just sees reads that might not be there. He is improving in this area, but he still needs to develop his feel for the game in the distribution department.

Finally, his defense is still suspect. He has a solid frame with good strength, but does not have the quickness, athleticism, or awareness in order to provide value in the league.

Portland lost many impactful bench contributors over this offseason, and needs to find viable players to replace them. While those spots will likely go to veterans, Trent has an opportunity to slide in as the ninth or tenth man in the rotation as a shooting specialist. If some of the new acquisitions are not able to live up to their billing (Mario Hezonja, Anthony Tolliver), Terry Stotts has shown that he is not afraid to plug in the young guns. If Trent moves toward a team focused game, his shooting arsenal could be valuable in 2019-20.

Unfortunately, I am not one of those optimists. I do not trust any of Trent’s skills outside of his shooting just yet. Not only does he need to change his mentality, but he also needs to continue to develop those secondary, such as his passing and defense.

Next. Portland should pickup Christian Wood. dark

Do you think Gary Trent Jr. has a chance to crack the rotation this upcoming year? Let us know @RipCityProject.