When Gary Trent Jr. was traded to the Toronto Raptors in the same deal that saw fan-favorite and expert marksman Norman Powell flipped to the Portland Trail Blazers, he knew that he had to hit the ground running to prove himself as a worthwhile replacement.
Trent might have a similar style of play to Powell, but at a much younger age of 22 and with restricted free agency coming up, Masai Ujiri clearly felt that Trent was a player who could fill Powell’s role on a slightly cheaper contract and for a longer period of time.
While his first few games in Toronto were not without some bumps, the early returns have to be pretty satisfying.
Trent averaged 16.2 points per game, better than the 15.0 points per game he was totaling in Portland alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, while making 39.5% of his shots and 35.5% of his 3-point attempts. In games he started, he averaged 17.7 points per game.
At the very least, he proved he can snipe from deep and get hot as quickly as anyone on this team. While he is hitting the market this offseason, Toronto will have the final say on his destination, and bringing him backs makes total sense.
Did his 2020-21 stint give them confidence he will continue his upward ascension?
How did Gary Trent Jr. perform with the Toronto Raptors?
Trent, who scored at least 20 in 6 of his 17 games, not only set his new career-high in points on two separate occasions, but his 44-point outburst on 15-17 shooting against the Cleveland Cavaliers match a scoring/efficiency combination that only one player has reached since the great Jerry West did it in 1967.
The former Duke stud and son of a former Toronto Raptor also showed off that ever-important clutch gene, draining a buzzer-beater to defeat the Washington Wizards. Irrespective of how blame is divided, the Raptors weren’t amazing in crunch time, but Trent’s display against Washington might be enough to make him a go-to option late.
Trent has the potential to be a great 3-and-D wing, but the defense still needs to improve over the offseason. Cleaning the Glass (subscription required) showed that the Raptors allowed 7.4 points per 100 possessions more when Trent was on the court. FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR stat backs this assertion up.
At the very least, he shows the required effort and tenacity to become a plus defender during the game, so the Raptors can take solace in that.
Trent will need to work on turning defense into a positive, but there is a ton to like about his game, and he proved that his ability to go supernova at the flick of a switch can make him a cornerstone. If he keeps developing, Trent could make the Raptors the clear winner of the Powell trade.