Gary Trent Jr.'s role in Toronto's offence has fluctuated over the past two seasons but based on the team's current situation, it might be time to unleash the scoring guard.
AMIT MANN: I don't know why Gary Trent Jr. was taken out of starting lineup. I don't think it was a good idea. Sure, he was struggling with a shot. They were struggling a little bit. But I mean, the reason why you had him there and the reason why last year worked so well was that, remember, that fun stat we had? Every player was averaging 15-plus. That was good, right? And their halfcourt offense was at least passable back then.
Now, you take one of your best shooters out of the lineup, while already OG and Fred are struggling with their shot. Yet, guess where your shot making is? It's nowhere. I want him to be unlocked to some degree.
When your halfcourt offense is as bad as it is and the Raptors are just desperate for anyone to put the ball in the hoop-- and to his credit, I mean, we haven't probably collectively as a fanbase, we haven't given him enough credit for the growth he made during the offseason. He has probably made one of the biggest jumps, I think, of any Raptor, you know, Pascal Siakam aside.
Is that his comfort in the paint now, like we remember last season like he was a nonfactor when it came to paint touches. And when he got there, he didn't finish with confidence. He is developing his floater. He is developing his presence around the rim. He's getting to the free throw line more than he ever was in his career.
And when you give him the ball, usually more often than not now, and probably there are possessions here or there, but you're getting a decent shot out of it. His perimeter game has always been there. His balance is ridiculous. He's always able to get a shot off. His 3-point shot has been a little bit up and down, but I think it's coming around a little bit. I think they have to invest a little bit into what he's able to create for the Raptors on the offensive end.
- And let's not forget that having players who score through catch-and-shoot 3's, one-drill pull-ups, or drives when your best player bends the defense, is crucial. This season, Gary is shooting 46.7% on 3's off Pascal Siakam passes. Tied with OG. But Gary is averaging 0.5 more attempts and 14% better than Fred, who's at 32.3.
Last season, Fred was at 39% on 3's off Pascal Siakam passes. So this is obviously an issue. VanVleet's inconsistency from 3 is a big problem. But Gary, in my opinion, has shown he offers a skill set Toronto lacks, and that is straight up buckets.
Obviously, Fred and Gary have player options after this season. Gary is going to opt out. Fred, I mean, man, depending on how the season goes, he might want to opt in because his value is taking a hit with each poor shooting performance. But Gary's given the Raptors plenty of reasons to look at him as a long-term piece if he keeps playing like this with the starters, for sure.
AMIT MANN: But for at least at the very moment when their halfcourt offense is struggling, when they're not getting good shots, just give Gary the ball. Give him a pick. And just get the bleep out of the way. And let's just see. Let's just see what happens because you're so bad right now, you're not getting good shots.
Your defense is being compromised like game-in, game-out because of the transition, the shots are not being made. You're crashing the glass and no one's getting the board because everyone knows who you are. Try and get a decent shot. Let's see.