Portland Trail Blazers: The Rise, Fall, (and Rise?) of Gary Trent Jr.

Gary Trent, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Gary Trent, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Gary Trent Jr. has become one of the feel-good stories of the Portland Trail Blazers season. But he had to overcome quite a bit to get to this point.

Portland Trail Blazers guard Gary Trent Jr. has been a star for majority of his young career. With myself growing up in Minnesota, I was able to watch some of his high school games and every one of them was packed. His senior season, he decided to transfer to Prolific Prep, a well-known basketball high school in Napa, California before committing to play for the Duke Blue Devils.

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Early in his basketball career he was well-known hooper, even being ESPN’s 8th ranked player nationally, yet now in the NBA he has become a quiet bench player trying to emerge…so what happened?

In his one season at Duke, Trent averaged a solid 14.5 points per game while being the solid sharpshooter that the team needed. Being satisfied with his one season there, he declared for the NBA draft. Scouts were confident with Trent Jr.’s game, thinking that he could become a solid role player with his shooting ability.

Being a Minnesotan, I was definitely rooting for Gary to be drafted high, but I was shaken by his second-round pick free fall. He was ultimately picked up by Portland in a trade.

Something happening completely different from the way you wanted it definitely could have a toll on someone’s confidence, and I’m guessing that draft drop definitely affected Gary in his first season. He barely saw the court for the Blazers and ended up even playing in some G-League games for the Texas Legends.

Even with adversity in his face, he didn’t let it stop him for long.

After a hardworking off-season, he came back ready to ball. Gary became a key contributor off of the Blazers bench, giving the team 7.7 points per game and becoming a key guard that could give CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard rest. Even though people began to doubt his worth to the team, this year he really inserted himself as an important piece to the Portland puzzle.

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With tremendous confidence in himself and statements as bold as wanting to win Defensive Player of the Year, the sky is the limit for Gary. If he continues to progress on an upward trend, there is no saying what type of player he could develop into. Soon that “What happened to Gary Trent Jr?” will become an emphatic “Gary is back!”.