2. Lead the league in deflections per game
Trent went from one of the worst defensive players in the league, according to every metric, to someone who can cause turnovers and get a fast break going. Trent’s defense went from tissue-thin to borderline All-Defensive team worthy overnight.
Trent ranked fourth in the league in deflections per game last year. The only three ahead of him were defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle, his own teammate in Fred VanVleet, and All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray. Trent doesn’t need to be Gary Payton next year, but replicating what he did in 2021-22 could land him at the top.
Toronto Raptors: Gary Trent Jr. has become an impact defender.
Trent is never going to be the greatest on-ball defender, despite taking progression in that area last season. His value, and his fit within Toronto’s scheme, is going to come almost entirely from his ability to disrupt passing lanes with some active hands.
The backcourt duo of VanVleet and Trent does not get enough respect, as they were the two primary forces in a defense that forced the most turnovers in the league last season. Expect more of the same from one of the East’s best off-ball guards in his second full season with the team.