The Toronto Raptors are in the middle of one of the more transformative offseasons in franchise history, yet the selection of Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 pick may have the greatest impact on the franchise in the long term. Gary Trent Jr. might end up as one of the big benefactors of that deal.
Trent, who was a restricted free agent after a breakout season that featured stops in both Portland and Toronto, is coming off of a 10-game stretch in which he averaged 18.4 points per game on 46% shooting before injuries hampered his play and forced him to miss some games.
Rather than add a player like Jalen Suggs, who looks like a high-floor player that could contribute on Day 1, the Raptors added Barnes, who for all of his positive traits, might need some extra work on the offensive end before he is ready for primetime.
That is where Trent comes into the equation. Trent earned himself a three-year contract worth $54 million, as the Raptors have made a commitment to his long-term place within this organization.
With the Raptors opting for defense and versatility over offense in the draft, Trent would be able to cement himself as the tertiary scorer in Toronto.
Gary Trent Jr. could shine with the Raptors alongside Scottie Barnes.
The Raptors will need to figure out how to generate offense next year. Pascal Siakam is on the mend with a shoulder injury, Barnes is developing, and despite all of the leaps OG Anunoby has made on the offensive end in the last few seasons, he still needs to improve his game just a tad to become a primary scorer.
Fred VanVleet is one of the best ball-handling guards in the game, but he isn’t the most efficient shooter in the world.
Trent will have the greenest light in the world next year, and his scoring production and efficiency in his pre-injury Raptors stint showed that 20 points a night might not be an unrealistic goal by the end of his contract if he keeps improving.
With Barnes and Siakam likely to share the floor for heavy minutes, Toronto needs shooters like Trent to be on the receiving end of some kick-outs. On a Raptors team trying to become longer and stronger, Trent provides some lethal 3-point shooting, and the high volume of shots he is going to get when Barnes is on the floor could make his production skyrocket.
We know Trent can shoot, and on a team that is starting to lose shooters, that will have extra value. However, he started to attack the basket and create more looks for himself after arriving in Toronto, and if Nick Nurse can keep Trent working on becoming a better iso scorer, the sky is the limit.
Trent is still improving, but the Raptors wouldn’t have given away a beloved player like Norman Powell if they didn’t think that Trent could be a valuable long-term piece.