In a freshman class crowded with future NBA talent, questions surrounded Gary Trent Jr. on whether he would be able to stand out on a loaded roster.
But a year of strong shooting paid dividends despite some inconsistencies, slotting the former Blue Devil as a middle of the pack pick in a draft class including four other former Duke athletes.
The Sacramento Kings selected Trent as the No. 37 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, landing as the fourth Blue Devil to be selected behind Grayson Allen at No. 21. Trent will become a member of the Portland Trailblazers following a draft-night deal. One of four top-10 recruits joining Duke in the 2017-2018 season, the Columbus, Ohio native posted an impressive 40.2% clip from beyond the arc, cementing him as one of Duke's most dangerous long range threats in a lineup that desperately needed outside production.
Trent excelled in conference play, posting double-digit scoring figures in all but two games. In Duke's opening ACC loss to Boston College, the former Blue Devil's clutch shooting in the final five minutes of the game kept Duke in reach despite the Eagles controlling the momentum on the offensive end. Through NCAA tournament play Trent posted consistent numbers and ended his short career as a Blue Devil with a single-season freshman record of 97 made three pointers.
However, while Trent has proven to be one of the sharpest shooters in his draft class, inconsistencies on both ends of the floor plagued the former Duke athlete.
Before he found his groove against Boston College, Trent made just 9-of-41 shots from beyond the arc in his previous eight games. Over the course of the PK80 tournament, the former Blue Devil only buried four shots from long range. Even towards the end of the season, Trent had lapses of debilitatingly streaky shooting. In Duke's season ending loss to Kansas, Trent made less than 50% of his shots from inside the perimeter and just 20.0% of his attempts from the three.
Trent also struggled to adapt to the fast-paced defensive requirements of a traditional man-to-man defensive system. An inability to stay in front of his assignments left Duke open to easy drives from opponents, contributing to the Blue Devils adopting a 2-3 zone defense to prevent further hemorrhaging buckets.
Although Trent would need to round out his game if he wants to get meaningful minutes in the NBA, the former Blue Devil has the potential to fit the mold of a three-and-D role player—an archetype in high demand across the board.
The Fit: With an already established starting backcourt led by CJ McCollum, it's unlikely that Trent will end up starting for the Trailblazers. However, after a season without Allen Crabbe, Portland's already erratic production from beyond the arc was further hampered by a lack of depth. The former Blue Devil could give head coach Terry Stotts some quick production off the bench against teams struggling to hold the perimeter.
However, considering the Trailblazer's first round selection of Anfernee Simons, one must wonder if Portland may be going too many guards deep this draft. Although both incoming rookies are likely seen long term investments rather than instant stars to build a team around, Trent likely has his work cut out for him if he wants to get regular minutes at the highest level of basketball.
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