Toronto Raptors fans have quickly embraced new shooting guard Gary Trent Jr., as the former Portland Trail Blazers stud has provided his usual brand of scoring and perimeter defense that made him a steal of a second-round pick. He made the Cleveland Cavaliers painfully aware of how good he can be.
The Raptors scored 87 points in the first half, setting a franchise record for most points scored in one half of basketball. Trent led the way, as his 44 points were accomplished on just 19 shots, with two off-center 3-pointers being the only misses on one of the most efficient scoring nights in NBA history.
We knew Trent could score at an above-average clip, but some of his game with the Raptors this season has been downright historical. Trent put up numbers that only Hall of Famer Jerry West and one other player have reached in NBA history.
Trent became the third player in NBA history to score 44 or more points in a game while making at least 89% of his shots, joining West and Mike Woodson. Trent’s 89% field goal percentage was the highest in NBA history for a player that scored 40 and attempted at least one 3-ball.
In addition, Trent became just the third player in the last decade to top 40 points and 85% shooting in a game, joining a two-time MVP in Giannis Antetkounmpo and a future Hall of Famer in Klay Thompson.
Toronto Raptors stud Gary Trent Jr. is scoring like Jerry West
Trent has immediately made the loss of Powell sting just a bit less, as his sharpshooting, quality perimeter pestering, ball-handling, and clutch performance have helped the Raptors win a few games and remain watchable in what has become an incredibly unlucky season.
Since Trent became a Raptor, he set a new career-high in points with 31, recorded the second-highest plus-minus total in NBA history against the Golden State Warriors, and crafted his first signature Raptors moment by nailing a buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer against the Washington Wizards.
After he started to endear himself to his new Canadian fanbase by saying that he “felt wanted” in Toronto and showed up to games wearing both custom OVO and Toronto Blue Jays gear, Trent went on a scoring barrage equaled by few. What a start.
Trent is a restricted free agent this season, but every indication hints at the fact that Ujiri is bringing him back with the intent of making him a piece of the team for the long haul. Not bad for a former second-round pick.
Time will tell how the Raptors view Trent and what sort of contract he will earn when he becomes a restricted free agent. If he keeps this up, he might be Toronto’s primary or secondary scoring option next season.