The Toronto Raptors will undoubtedly use the last few games of their 2020-21 season to get a good look at some of the players they will lean on in the coming season. Gary Trent Jr., a guard who was acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in the Norman Powell swap, figures to be in Toronto for the next few seasons.
No one can deny that Trent has been sensational since coming to the Raptors, as a 44-point outburst and buzzer-beating game-winner stand out as some of the more noteworthy moments from the early stages of his life with Toronto.
Trent was acquired because he could fill the Powell role in Toronto, as his ability to snipe from 3-point range and defend the perimeter, allegedly, is a huge reason why the Raptors could replace the former star with a younger, cheaper alternative. If he wants to really impress Toronto, however, he must fix one fatal flaw.
Trent will be able to secure his first NBA bag this offseason, though the Raptors will likely match whatever offer he gets in free agency. If stardom is truly on his mind, he will need to figure out how to improve his defense, as Toronto is much worse whenever he is out there on the defensive end.
Toronto Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. must improve his defense.
Per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required), The Raptors allow 7.8 points per 100 possessions more when Trent is on the floor as compared to when he’s off the floor. This is not only the worst on the team, but it’s the worst on the team by almost double the second-worst player, Freddie Gillespie.
The Raptors have one of the best defensive point guards in the game in Fred VanVleet, one of the best defenders in the game at any position in OG Anunoby, and an above-average rim protector in Khem Birch. Trent is the weak link, and opposing teams are starting to figure out.
Trent has improved his defense when compared to his Portland days, where he played at the small forward position, but Toronto needs to be aware of that when it comes time to talk contract. Trent is almost assuredly staying with the Toronto Raptors in free agency, but they need to know the type of player they are pledging their future to.
Trent has the “3” part of “3-and-D” down pat, but he needs to get the other half of that phrase under control. Trent’s ceiling on the offensive end is as high as anyone on this team, but Nurse needs to find a way to help improve his skill on the defensive end to justify a huge multi-year deal.