Duke in the NBA: Gary Trent Jr. continues to contribute for unbeaten Blazers

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 15: Gary Trent Jr
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 15: Gary Trent Jr /

During the Portland Trail Blazers’ opening knockout-round game of the Las Vegas Summer League on Thursday night, Gary Trent Jr. once again came off the bench to help propel his undefeated squad into the quarterfinals.

As he did last season for the Duke Blue Devils, Gary Trent Jr. is starting to show his new team that he is more than just a sharpshooter. A week after inking a three-year guaranteed contract worth nearly $4 million, the rookie added another solid all-around performance to his summer résumé as the Blazers cruised to a 95-69 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Although Trent Jr. only scored10 points on just 4-of-13 shooting, he was 2-of-5 from behind the arc; he also added six rebounds, two assists, two steals, a block, and only one turnover during his 23 minutes of action. In other words, he continued to provide a preview to his new fans in Portland of what he showed Blue Devil fans he can do last season: use his strong body and knowledge of the game to fill multiple categories on the stat sheet.

Across four games thus far in Summer League play, Trent Jr. is averaging 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.5 blocks. However, in order to maintain his spot in the rotation in the future, the 19-year-old will have to improve his shooting accuracy. Although he is only hitting 35 percent of his shots, Duke fans may remember that he started off cold during his freshman campaign last season before heating up in time for ACC play.

While the Blazers have shown trust in their second-round pick by offering him a contract, Trent Jr. will likely have to climb an uphill battle for playing time when the official season begins; as of right now, the shooting-guard position in Portland is loaded with talent. One of those guards happens to be another former Blue Devil sharpshooter, Seth Curry. The pair of Dukies could end up competing for minutes behind the team’s veteran starter, C.J. McCollum.

With the win, the 4-0 Blazers will now have a couple of days to rest before the quarterfinals of the Las Vegas Summer League. They will play Sunday against the winner of Saturday’s matchup between the Celtics and the Heat.