Gary Trent Jr.
Speaking of shooters, Gary Trent Jr. earned himself a lot of fans after joining the Raptors following a deadline deal in exchange for Norman Powell. Still, his 3-and-D reputation can only work if he’s shooting the ball well, which he didn’t entirely show with last year’s performance.
Now with stability and a firmly established spot, it’s on Trent to continue to grow in Toronto.
Best Case Scenario
Trent Jr. is set to turn 23 in January, has financial security, and should continue to enjoy the same considerable minutes responsibility that he earned last season post-trade. Could we have a perfect storm of player development on our hands?
The Duke alum’s per-game averages are almost certain to look good given what is expected to be some high usage. Where Trent must improve, is through efficiency. His 39.5% shooting percentage post-trade was much lower than his career shooting mark of 42.3% as a member of the Blazers.
For all the talk of the Raptors needing more shooting, the return of a more accurate Trent alongside VanVleet and OG Anunoby should make for some pretty potent floor-stretching lineups. He averaged 18.4 points per game in his first 10 contests with the Raptors, and the best-case for rent should be reaching that plateau again.
What happens to the Toronto Raptors if Gary Trent Jr. doesn’t improve?
Worst Case Scenario
The Powell comparison may not be fair to Trent Jr., but the two will be forever intertwined. When the trade happened, Toronto seemed to do well to get the younger and likely more cost-controlled shooting guard, even if Portland was getting the player who was presently better.
Still, Trent getting $17 million per year while Powell got $18 million puts immediate pressure on him to validate both the trade and the contract by outplaying Powell. With this deal, the Raptors have opened up the possibility that the 22-year-old will struggle to produce and make two front office decisions look regrettable.
With talk of Dragic potentially taking over a starting role, beginning a three-year contract as a reserve is not ideal.
Curiously, the contract afforded to Trent left little in the way of upside for the club. It’s far from a team-friendly deal, and even if he manages to outplay it, he could opt out of a third-year player option and be completely unrestricted by the summer of 2023.