It can be really challenging for a rookie entering the league to balance hard work and playing time.
Going from college ball where you’re probably “the guy” on the team to likely sitting on the bench on an NBA floor or very few minutes of playing time late in the game. It can be tough from a mental as well as physical standpoint.
This is where Portland Trail Blazers Assistant Coach Jim Moran steps in.
On this week’s edition of Trail Blazers Courtside, hosts Jordan Kent and Michael Holton welcome in special guest Jim Moran. Moran is in his fifth season with the Trail Blazers and focuses on player development.
Who is the player that has improved the most and added to his bag in Moran’s eyes?
Gary Trent Jr.
The former second-round (No. 37 overall) draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft was originally selected by the Sacramento Kings but subsequently traded to the Blazers.
And while the Trail Blazers were haunted by the injury bug this 2019-2020 season, Trent Jr.’s patience and hard work was on full display in front of the NBA world in just his second season in the league.
He’s shown he can get into the game and make shots. His defense has been unbelievable. I don’t think we talk enough about how much of a buy in he gave for his defense… We really challenged him defensively and he bought in. He was guarding Derrick Rose, Bradley Beal, he’s guarding some high level guys and he’s not backing down. — Jim Moran
He was the spark in the dark the Trail Blazers needed amidst so many injuries.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sports world and suspended the NBA season, Trent Jr. saw action in 53 games and averaged 7.7 points per game, shot 42.6% from the field and 38.8% from three-point range. A different part of his improved game shined on any give night: three steals against Detroit on Feb. 23; 24 points against Orlando on the road on Mar. 2; five rebounds and four assists vs. Washington on Mar. 4.
There was no sophomore slump for Trent Jr., and we only wish we could have seen more of his development shine this season.
Hopefully we will soon.