Former Duke basketball player maximizing multimillion-dollar risk

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Duke basketball product Gary Trent Jr. was wise when he bet big on himself.

The secret must be out by now: former Duke basketball one-and-done Gary Trent Jr. is an extremely valuable asset. In turn, this means the third-year Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard, who went No. 37 overall at the 2018 NBA Draft, is proving to be an expert gambler when it’s his future earnings that are at stake.

Before the season tipped off in December, Trent turned down the chance to negotiate a contract extension with Portland that could have secured him more than $50 million from 2021-22 through 2024-25. Instead, he set his sights on restricted free agency this summer.

Speaking to the media at the time, the 6-foot-5 Minnesota native succinctly implied the potential payoff is well worth the risk:

“Everything is gonna take care of itself.”

Fast forward to the past five games. In terms of fantasy value, Trent has become a hot pickup while drawing a temporary starting gig as CJ McCollum recovers from a fractured foot. He has answered the call — rather efficiently — by averaging 19.4 points during the stretch, largely due to his 24-for-49 clip from downtown (49.0 percent).

Now, as the Blazers (11-9) travel to take on the Eastern Conference frontrunner Philadelphia 76ers (15-6) at 8 p.m. EST Thursday, Trent is producing career-highs this go-round with 27.7 minutes and 13.2 points per contest while shooting a personal-best 45.0 percent from 3-point land.

The Duke basketball alum feeling at home on the road

On Tuesday night, Gary Trent Jr. continued to sizzle away from home by putting on perhaps the greatest all-around performance of his career.

Seeing a team-high 40 minutes on the floor, Trent ensured the Blazers picked up a 132-121 win over the Washington Wizards (4-13) by going 7-for-9 from deep, finishing with 26 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals, and only one turnover. Fellow Duke basketball members Rodney Hood and Harry Giles also chipped in a combined 17 points and nine boards for Portland.

Adding to other prolific road outings this season, Trent has averaged 17.0 points in opponents’ arenas while hitting 51.5 percent of his 3-point attempts and 85.7 percent of his foul shots; at home, those same percentages are 37.0 and 63.6, respectively.

However, reacting to Trent’s latest showing, Dave Deckard of Blazer’s Edge reminded folks that the 22-year-old’s repertoire includes more than just a silky stroke:

“Put some respect on Gary Trent Jr.’s name. He set the tone in the game with his defense, then added 7-9 shooting from distance…His game is professional now: two-way, confident, and impactful.”

In a matter of months, “money” might be the fitting descriptor for Trent’s game.

Related Story. The 100 greatest Blue Devils under Coach K. light

Bookmark Ball Durham for more on Gary Trent Jr. plus other Duke basketball news and views.