Portland Trail Blazers

Gary Trent Jr. isn't shy, and that's just what the Trail Blazers need

Portland Trail Blazers

There is an undeniable fearlessness to Gary Trent Jr. 

The Trail Blazers second year guard is confident enough to stroll into an empty arena in Orlando with a flame-adorned, black denim button-up fastened so it purposely exposes his bare navel as well as his high-end fanny pack. And since no outfit is complete without accessories, the script on his Supreme beanie matches the flames along the trim of his shirt. 

This is not an outfit for the meek. It’s more Guy Fieiri meets Paris Fashion Week. The Mayor of Flavortown on the Champs-Élysées.

“Ever since I can remember I've been stylish,” Trent Jr. says, explaining that his grandmother helped instill in him an appreciation for dressing nice at an early age.

His brazen sartorial choices off the court perfectly encapsulates his approach on the court.

Seconds after checking into the game in the first quarter on Tuesday night, Trent Jr. tracked down James Harden at the rim and blocked a would-be layup by the former MVP.

His game is not for the meek, either. Nothing about any of this is timid.

He plays with the confidence that has made him an invaluable part of the Trail Blazers rotation and earned him crunch time minutes during what amounts to an extended postseason run. He’s shown his full game in Orlando. There has been rugged defense and eagerness to try to lock up stars like Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum and James Harden. While constantly pestering and disrupting opponents, helping him rank eighth in the NBA in deflections per game since the restart.

That determined defense has been a perfect complement to a hotter than Central Florida in August shooting stroke. Through three games in Orlando, Trent Jr. is 15-for-25 from beyond the three-point line, tied for the most makes from deep of anyone in the NBA.

On Tuesday against the Rockets, the Blazers grinded out a crucial win to move within 1.5 games of the Memphis Grizzlies in the race for the eighth seed in the West. Trent Jr. finished with 16 points and made 4 of 9 three-pointers in 35 minutes, coming up big with the game on the line. After Houston tied the score with under four minutes to go, Trent Jr. calmly drilled a spot-up three from the left wing to give Portland the lead for good. 

It was the third straight game where Trent Jr. has been on the floor at crunch time as he has grown into an essential contributor after beginning the year as a developmental piece at the end of the rotation. In Portland’s first game it was Trent Jr. who was tasked with slowing down Morant in overtime as the Blazers clawed out an all important win over the Grizzlies. Then against Boston, Trent Jr. shot an absurd 7-for-11 from beyond the arc to help the Blazers stay afloat before their late rally fell short.

 

The NBA restart has condensed the league down to only its most competitive teams, and the Blazers are in a mad scramble to make the playoffs. This eight game dash isn’t for the meek. Luckily, nothing about Trent Jr. fits that description.