The Toronto Raptors had to say goodbye to a franchise legend in Norman Powell at the 2021 trade deadline. Replacing him sounded like a tall order, but the Portland Trail Blazers managed to drop an ideal stand-in right into Toronto’s laps. Gary Trent Jr. has quickly become an indefensible starter.
After a promising start in 2021, Trent stepped on the gas last season, averaging 18.3 points per game while serving as one of the top 3-point shooters on a team that generally lacked excellence from the perimeter. Trent still has his best basketball ahead of him at just 23 years old.
Trent is going into the 2022-23 season with the potential to hit free agency once again, as he could decline a player option. Given the league’s emphasis on young guards who can shoot, Trent might be able to cash in a contract worth close to nine figures if he stays hot.
The Raptors are expecting big things out of Trent in the next few years, as they still are somewhat lacking in perimeter support. Expect Trent to rise up from 3-point range often (while playing his brand of much-improved defense) as he strives to reach this handful of goals.
3 goals Gary Trent Jr. could strive for
3. Average three assists per game
Trent is a fantastic offensive player, but he can be a bit of a black hole at times. When he’s hot, he wants to keep shooting no matter who is around him. When he’s cold, he’s just dying for one big 3-pointer to break his streak. Being more involved as a passer might be the best thing for his game.
Trent averaged just 2.0 assists per game last year, which is below what many of Toronto’s top ball-handling guards of yesteryear were putting up. In an offense that preaches being egalitarian and spreading shots around, Trent being a bit more willing to dish it might have immediate positive effects.
Toronto Raptors: Gary Trent Jr. should become a better passer.
Trent can cook with the ball in his hands, but that isn’t going to take him as far as he would like in his career unless he can pair that with a respectable distribution ability. Why not let Trent initiate the offense by bringing the ball up for a couple of possessions every game? It helped Scottie Barnes get better.
No one ever thought Trent would be a good defender in his career, and he has since proven those doubters irrefutably wrong. Nurse has always been able to teach old dogs new tricks, and Trent’s improved passing might be one way to really jumpstart this offense.