Portland Trail Blazers: Can Gary Trent Jr. step up in Trevor Ariza’s absence?

Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza will not be joining the team in Orlando. Now, the big question is: can Gary Trent Jr. step up in his absence?

Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza just recently stated that he will not be participating in the games that will be happening in Orlando. With a custody battle going on with the mother of his child, Ariza decided to spend the allotted time instead with his son.

Trevor Ariza this season was averaging 8.0 points per game for the Blazers while also being a great defensive player while on the floor. Before the season was postponed. Also shooting 37% from beyond the arc benefited star players such as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum by spreading out the floor and giving them space to create for themselves.

This will be a tough blow for this Blazers squad. Missing a veteran presence such as Ariza will force younger, less experienced players to fill his role. One of those players expected to step up will be former 2nd round pick Gary Trent Jr.

Gary Trent Jr. to begin his career had a slow start. Splitting time between games in the G-League and actual NBA minutes was mostly what he did in his first season. Not really establishing himself on the court, Trent Jr. was mostly forgotten and overshadowed by other bench players such as Zach Collins and Anfernee Simons.

Even with what some may call a “failure” of a first season, Gary Trent Jr. bounced back to prove his worth in the 2019 NBA season. Becoming a solid role player off of the bench, Gary averaged 7.7 points while shooting a respectable clip from 3-point range. This gave the Blazers a solid option to put into the game whenever Dame or CJ got tired and someone they knew could hold his own on the defensive side of things.

Even with all the progression that Trent Jr. has made, it will be interesting to see if he can step into a bigger role on the team. Even with his defensive ability and shooting, Gary Trent Jr. would still be seen as an undersized small forward if he were to be put into that spot.

Standing at 6’5, Gary Trent Jr. would have to guard superstars such as Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic in this new play in schedule. Both those players have at least three inches on him and are some of the best offensive players in the game, which will prove to be a challenge for him.

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Trevor Ariza will be a tricky piece to replace on the Portland roster, but we will soon see if the Blazer’s actually do have faith in Gary Trent Jr., or if they will go shopping in free agency to find a player they see more worthy of the role.

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