We got a fever and the only prescription is more Gary Trent Jr.
The ‘pitbull’ was off the leash leading up to and during the NBA’s restart down in the Orlando, Florida bubble last season and was instrumental in Portland’s quest for the eight seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Coming into this season, the big question was how will Portland give Trent Jr. more minutes especially after bringing in Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr. and re-signing Carmelo Anthony?
Now 12 games in, we are getting to see the rotation that head coach Terry Stotts has settled in on, with Trent Jr. one of the first few to come off the bench.
On the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, Frye discusses more on what he thinks of Trent Jr.’s play and role this season for Portland:
“Gary is finding out like, ‘Damn okay how can I get on the floor,’ because at the end of the day, there’s not enough of the main protein which is offense to go around so you’re not going to get 12, 15 shots every night. If you want more than 20 minutes, what can you do differently? He’s figuring out, ‘when I’m open, I’ll shoot it. But for me to stay on the ground, I’m filling a hole’ which shows his professionalism, which I appreciate.”
So far this season, GTJ is averaging 10.9 points per game and hitting .434% from three-point range. Bang bang. Any player that can boost the second unit with double-digit scoring off the bench is huge in the NBA. And the Blazers have two players currently doing just that: GTJ and Melo.
While it is comforting to know that the Trail Blazers have some firepower coming off the bench in the second unit - along with Rodney Hood who is still getting his feet wet after that Achilles injury last season - one can’t help but imagine GTJ could do with more of an opportunity.
Frye continued on the podcast:
“I think he has the opportunity to be better than Patrick Beverly, but he can have that same impact where ‘When I’m in and Dame and CJ are out, these are the three or four plays we’re going to run and we’re going to run the crap out of them.’ Most of the time, you’re going to find your ‘big dog’, where CJ at? And then throw it like in a triangle… throw it and run to the corner. Run something like that where you just need to bring that thing up, give it to the big dog, get into the corner and then go play defense and you gonna be out there for awhile.”
We’ll find out more as the season progresses and what Coach Stotts wants to do with the pitbull that is Gary Trent Jr.