September 12, 2018, 11:55 am
Leading up to the Portland Trail Blazers’ season-opener against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers at Moda Center on October 18, HoopBall is profiling the team’s 15 players with guaranteed contracts, in reverse order of price.
Player: Gary Trent, Jr.
2018-19 salary: $838,464 (via spotrac)
Position: off-ball guard
Age, experience: 19, rookie
Measureables: 6-foot-6, 204 pounds (6-foot-8 and 3/4 inch wingspan)
Strengths: shooting, strength, ball security
Weaknesses: finishing ability, lateral quickness, first step, positional versatility, youth
Swing factor: 3-point shooting
Likely role: deep reserve/G-League
The Trail Blazers paid a pretty price for Trent, sending out second-round picks in each of the next two drafts to the Sacramento Kings for the rights to the No. 37 overall pick. A teenager who broke Duke’s single-season record for triples during his one season in Durham, he has the size and skill-set teams covet from off-ball guards in the modern NBA – at least at first glance.
Portland lists Trent at 6-foot-6, and his 33 1/2 inch standing vertical leap ranked third at the pre-draft combine. He bench pressed 185 pounds 12 times, too, a solid number for a perimeter player just one year removed from high school. Unfortunately, those measurements paint a far rosier portrait of the physical tools he actually brings to the NBA game. He struggled immensely as a finisher at Summer League, beset by a relative lack of length and his need for space to explode the way his impressive jumping metrics indicate What’s likely to set Trent back more from an athletic perspective, though, is his lateral quickness. He fared better defensively in Las Vegas than most anticipated given his performance on that end of the floor at Duke, but nonetheless showed little to suggest he has the defensive chops to fit the ever-coveted 3-and-D archetype.
Players of that caliber are rarely found outside the top half of the first round anyway; the Blazers probably view Trent’s realistic ceiling as a valuable bench player rather than a solid starter. He won’t be either unless he lives up to his reputation as a marksman, something he failed to do over the summer. Trent, after shooting 40.2 percent on 6.5 threes per game in college, connected on just 9-of-his 40 attempts in Las Vegas. It’s not like Portland wasn’t producing good looks, either; both Jake Layman and John Jenkins made comfortably over half their tries from deep.
The good news: Trent’s textbook release was unchanged by the extra distance from the college line to the NBA’s, and his balance both from both a stationary position or otherwise was impressive. He made all 15 of his free throws, too. More notable considering that type of refinement was expected, though, was Trent’s poise and comfort on the floor no doubt instilled by an entire life spent around the game at its highest level. Assuming the jumper comes, he looked the part of a future rotation player, basically, no small feat for a second-rounder who doesn’t turn 20 in January.
On a losing team with a priority of player development, Trent could perhaps be earmarked for a handful of on a nightly basis. But that’s not the Blazers. Big changes could come for Portland if it doesn’t earn a playoff berth in what’s maybe the strongest conference the league has seen this decade.Terry Stotts just doesn’t have the luxury of patience for a player like Trent, and Neil Olshey, who talked in July about the rookie potentially getting some burn this season, signed Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas to address his team’s dearth of shooting behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The performances of Layman and Wade Baldwin, both older incumbents, theoretically push Trent further down Stotts’ list of options on the perimeter, too.
Does that mean there’s not a possible path for Trent to the rotation? Not necessarily. If he shoots lights out from three in training camp and Curry is still a step slow after a full season away from the game or, just as likely, Stauskas proves unplayable defensively, Stotts could find himself playing a rookie not just in front of Portland’s first-round pick, but also as his second or third perimeter player off the bench. More likely is that Trent joins Anfernee Simons at the end of the Blazers’ bench when they aren’t getting reps down in the G-League, with hopes of developing into real factors for Portland this time next year.
October 18, 2019, 2:04 amKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard checked in for Thursday's preseason finale against the Mavs and put up 13 points, three rebounds, four steals and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes.
Leonard took full advantage of some sloppy play from Luka Doncic to help make up for his poor 5-of-19 shooting performance. Kawhi's inching up closer to the middle points of the first round in fantasy drafts, and where you select him depends entirely on your tolerance for potential nights off.
October 18, 2019, 2:02 amLandry ShametSG, Los Angeles Clippers
Despite 37 minutes in Thursday's preseason game, Landry Shamet finished with five points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals, a 3-pointer and a 2-of-10 shooting line.
The Clippers look prepared to give Shamet major minutes this season on the wing and at point guard, but his preseason play has been lackluster. We're going to chalk this up to a weirdly-timed slump and continue drafting Shamet in the later rounds of all drafts.
October 18, 2019, 2:00 amPatrick BeverleyPG, Los Angeles Clippers
Patrick Beverley (calf) and Lou Williams (rest) sat out of Thursday's preseason game with the Mavs.
No need for the Clippers, who figure to do lots of load managing, to force either of their vets through a meaningless game. Beverley's calf injury is suspected to be minor but we'll keep an eye on it as the season approaches.
October 18, 2019, 1:53 amJustin JacksonSF, Dallas Mavericks
Justin Jackson notched 18 points off the bench in Thursday's 102-87 win over the Clippers, adding six rebounds and three triples to round out his game.
Jackson ends his preseason on a strong note and it looks like he'll hold a solid rotation role for Dallas, and may even start if the forward core suffers injuries. That said, he's always been a weak fantasy play and would need immense volume to change anyone's mind.
October 18, 2019, 1:51 amMoses BrownC, Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers have converted Moses Brown's training camp deal into a two-way contract.
It's a nice climb for Brown, who went undrafted out of UCLA. Portland's center depth could be tested if Hassan Whiteside misses time because of his sprained ankle but we'd be surprised if Brown saw much action at the NBA level this year.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
October 18, 2019, 1:41 amDorian Finney-SmithSF, Dallas Mavericks
Neither Dorian Finney-Smith (hip flexor) nor Seth Curry (right knee contusion) played in Thursday's preseason finale.
There's no reason for the Mavs to push either player through this, though we'll keep an eye out for updates before the real games begin. Both figure to be important reserves and should be able to deliver top-250 value in fantasy, if that means anything to you.
October 18, 2019, 1:39 amKristaps PorzingisPF-C, Dallas Mavericks
Kristaps Porzingis needed only 23 minutes to produce 18 points, 13 rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer in Thursday's preseason win over the Clippers.
Luka Doncic, not to be outdone, added 13 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four 3-pointers of his own, though nine turnovers were pretty ugly. It wasn't always pretty but it's obvious that this young dynamic duo will threaten early-round value for as long as they're on the court. How much they're on the court, Porzingis is particular, is the question.
October 18, 2019, 1:37 amDelon WrightPG, Dallas Mavericks
Delon Wright put a fitting end to a quiet preseason on Thursday, scoring six points with three rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes of action.
Wright was looking like a major breakout candidate but a poor preseason looks to have took some wind out of his sails. We still believe in his ability to rack up defensive stats out of a guard spot and his solid middle-round upside, so Wright's still worth a look sometime after pick No. 80.
October 18, 2019, 1:34 amJalen BrunsonPG, Dallas Mavericks
Jalen Brunson (sore left hamstring) posted six points, five rebounds, seven assists and a steal in 15 minutes on Thursday night.
Brunson started next to Delon Wright, which is something to remember in case the Mavs deal with injuries that force them to reshuffle the starting five during the year. He's only a deep-league option but did have some stints of relevance last season, so he's not someone to completely write off if injuries strike.
October 18, 2019, 12:44 amGiannis AntetokounmpoPF, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo blitzed the Wolves in Thursday's preseason win, racking up 26 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, three blocks and a 3-pointer in 27 minutes of work.
It's safe to say Giannis is ready for the regular season and is locked in as a top-5 pick in all formats. He went 9-of-15 from the field and a solid 7-of-9 from the line, and if that kept up all season fantasy players would be overjoyed. There's not much else to take from this one. Khris Middleton also had a good game with 18 points and seven assists.