Duke in the NBA: Gary Trent Jr. again offers helping hand as Blazers advance

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Gary Trent Jr.
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Gary Trent Jr. /

As the Las Vegas Summer League dwindled its remaining field to four teams on Sunday, Gary Trent Jr. further embraced his sixth-man role to help extend his squad’s unbeaten streak.

Former Duke Blue Devil Gary Trent Jr. is on an official quest to make fools out of all the teams that let him slip into the second round of the NBA Draft. Many so-called experts labeled him as “just a shooter” and wondered if his limited athletic ability would hinder his effectiveness at the professional level.

But after the Portland Trail Blazers improved their record to 5-0 in the NBA Summer League on Sunday night and advanced to the semifinals with a 95-80 win against the Boston Celtics, it is becoming more and more evident to observers that Trent Jr. is an all-around contributor and winner.

Despite having recurring issues finding the bottom of the net during his team’s undefeated run, the 19-year-old has continued to find other ways to help each time that his coach calls his name. While he has had a tough time of late putting the ball through the hoop from close distances, his long-range touch has been as good as anyone could have expected in recent games.

Trent Jr., the lone former Dukie remaining in the tournament, finished Sunday’s contest with eight points from a 3-of-9 shooting performance. But he was 2-of-4 from the three-point line. On top of that, he made his presence known during his 22 minutes on the court by adding five rebounds, two assists, a steal, and zero turnovers. And the shooting guard still has at least one more opportunity to show off his stroke.

The Blazers, who made it all the way to the final game of the NBA Summer League last year, will play the Memphis Grizzlies at 10:30 p.m. on Monday. In the other semifinal matchup, the Cleveland Cavaliers will face the Los Angeles Lakers. Duke fans are hoping that Trent Jr. proves to be the difference maker who helps his franchise leave Las Vegas this time around with a trophy in its possession.