Someone on the Portland Trail Blazers has been playing out of the world recently. Gary Trent Jr. has averaged just 8.2 points prior to the bubble but now he’s on fire. He had 21 points against the Celtics and 16 against the Rockets. It should be a surprise at why he’s been getting considerable minutes (34 and 35 minutes) when his production prior wasn’t the greatest.
He is the Blazers’ unsung hero — at least in the bubble so far.
Even though he’s so underrated, he’s on pace for a very interesting, very obscure and a very unique stat line only achieved by 3 other NBA stars. Trent is on pace to become the 4th player to have a 40% accuracy from the 3, 80% FT, and 1.5% steal rate. He joins Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Jayson Tatum before they turn 21.
Okay sure, this stat really means nothing, but it’s still pretty impressive. Shoutout to the guy or girl who found the stat.
But here’s a stat that actually matters. Trent is currently averaging 18 points per game in the bubble, coming off the bench for some stellar performances. There are few big parts about his production that greatly help the Trailblazers.
When Dame or CJ are off, the Blazers still have options.
Like all team sports, when the stars of the team don’t play their best, the rest of the team needs to stand up to make sure they still get the win. Melo has already shown he is capable of doing that. But just one man can’t always make up a superstar like Damian Lillard. That’s why Trent being able to produce off the bench when Dame or CJ have slow starts and rough games is vital for the Blazers to have any shot of making it to the postseason.
It’s coming out party.
Trent Jr. has flown under most people’s radar. He was a second-round draft pick out of Duke in 2018. While his first season was nothing spectacular, Coach Terry Scott has been known to say Gray put in the work. His father was an NBA player as well so he knows firsthand what it takes to be successful in the league. Now that Gary has learned firsthand what the NBA is about, what’s expected of you, the plays, and how to follow a system, he is finally starting to shine and breakout.
Stretches teams thin defensively.
Having another player who has the potential of dropping 20 points on any given night (if he keeps up this hot streak) forces other teams to reevaluate their game plan in terms of how they want to deal with the Blazers. There’s always the backcourt to worry about. Then Nurkic is a massive problem for opposing teams at center. Then Carmelo is starting to ball out like the Hall of Famer he is. And now Gary Trent Jr. is slowly establishing himself as a defensive and offensive threat. Not many teams have 4 guys who can shut down another team defensively.
He’s much more than just an offensive player.
A very simple way of putting it would be to say that Gary is like the 3-and-D player that Wesley Mathews was, except much younger. He has size, speed, and even prioritizes defensive positioning. He even said that he hopes to win the Defensive Player of the Year award or be named onto an all-defensive team at some point in his career. He’s had rotations guard opposing teams’ best players like he did Tuesday against Harden and Westbrook — helping limit their offensive production. So he’s had experience and has been able to handle his own. Just wait until he gets more minutes in the NBA.
While I may be getting ahead of myself in regards to Gary’s talent, his recent numbers do back this up. He’s playing really well for a player coming off the bench with tons of room to grow and improve. He has his mind prioritized on defense and the offensive game is coming to him. Like all Blazers fans, I sincerely hope that these few games have been an indication of what Trent may soon become.