Despite standing as a solid offensive weapon with Duke University and being a 2nd round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Portland Trail Blazers rookie Gary Trent Jr. has struggled to get into the big league club’s rotation. Those issues are exemplified by him only playing a total of 33 minutes with the Trail Blazers.
Rather than having Trent continuing to rot on the end of their bench, Portland sent the Duke rookie down to the G League on January 20th. Due to Portland not having their own minor league squad, Trent was sent to the Texas Legends thanks to the flexible assignment rule.
From the moment that the 6’6 rookie put on a Legends jersey, he seemed to be on a mission to prove himself to both the Trail Blazers and the rest of the basketball world. In seven games with the team, he’s been able to immediately stand out as arguably the best scorer in the league. In 6 games with the team, he’s averaged 33.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game on 51% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc on 10 attempts per game.
As apparent from those great numbers, Trent has been the epitome of consistent excellence since he arrived in Texas. In fact, the only game where he put up less than 30 points was his G League debut against the Iowa Wolves. Since then, he’s been the Legends’ leading scorer in each of their last five games.
The high point of that scoring output came on Friday, February 11st where he put up a career-high 39 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists on 14-25 from field, 6-11 from 3 and 5-5 from the FT line in the team’s 136-133 win against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. While he was tremendous from the start of the game, the climax came in the closing moments as he pushed the Legends to victory by hitting a contested 3 with just .7 seconds left in regulation.
That jumper has been the anchor of Trent’s offensive attack with the Legends as he’s been the league’s most efficient perimeter shooter since he made his debut last month. Whether in the catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble, Trent’s shooting stroke is beautiful as it’s both smooth and succinct which has led to consistent shooting percentages dating back to his time at Prolific Prep in California.
The 20-year-old’s amazing performance in the G League has paid off as the Trail Blazers recalled Trent from the Texas Legends on Saturday, February 2nd. While it’ll be tough for the young guard to find minutes on a veteran-led backcourt, him being able to nail perimeter jumpers as such an efficient rate should intrigue Terry Stotts and the rest of the Trail Blazers coaching staff.
While the level of competition in the G League obviously pales in comparison to the NBA, Trent should still be a steady perimeter weapon within Portland’s 2nd unit for two reasons; a steady perimeter jumper and getting open looks due to his status as an unknown rookie.