What LeBron James and the Lakers taught Gary Trent Jr. in the NBA restart

Jamie Hudson
·4 min read

What LeBron James and the Lakers taught Gary Trent Jr. in the NBA restart originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

The leap between year one and year two in the NBA is talked about a lot.

Some make it, some don't. 

One NBA player who made one of the biggest jumps from his rookie season to sophomore year this past season was, undoubtedly, Trail Blazers shooting guard Gary Trent Jr.

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And to think, just cracking the rotation was his offseason goal last summer.

“The opportunity to lead and just play,” Trent Jr. said these were the main takeaways following the Blazers final Las Vegas Summer League game last year.

While Blazers assistant coach Jim Moran, who headed up the coaching responsibilities in Vegas, recognized that the defensive end is where Trent Jr. needed to spend his focus. 

I know he’s a scorer, I know he can shoot, he’s a talented player, but I think as a coach you’ve just gotta keep working on their weakness and I think right now [it's about] just getting him to buy in more on the defensive end.

Blazers assistant coach Jim Moran at Summer League 2019 

We now know that Moran was spot on and Trent Jr. did just that.

After being talked about as one of the top breakout players of the Orlando bubble nationally, Trent impressed many on the defensive end. When Blazers head coach Terry Stotts needed a wing to guard the best player on the opposing team, Trent Jr. became the go-to guy.

This offseason, the Trail Blazers shooting guard is working on ‘everything.’

Trent Jr. told NBC Sports Northwest that his main goal this offseason is to return even more polished as an all-around player. 

Everything I can do to be better. You can never come back the same player. The goal with me is to have no weakness in my basketball game -- whether it’s the offense end or defensive end -- So… I continue to work on every single thing to make sure I can accomplish that goal.

Trail Blazers wing Gary Trent Jr. 

Trent Jr. went back to Minnesota to see family and friends after returning from the Bubble. 

But that didn't mean he immediately let his body have its much needed recovery time. 

“When we got back from the bubble, I actually, as soon as we got back, I still worked out for a few days because the plan was obviously to continue to be playing, so I came back and probably worked out for three days after that, but then I just had to give my body rest. I was tired.”

Now that Trent Jr. is back in Portland to “get back to work, get back into the grind,” the 6’5” wing is working out in the gym one to two times per day as he ramps up for the 2020-21 season to start.

There's no doubt that the Duke alum turned heads this year and is looking like a huge steal for the Blazers with the No. 37 pick in the 2018 Draft.

Trent’s play in Orlando really showcased his skill set.

During the NBA restart, in the eight seeding games played, Trent averaged 16.9 points a game while shooting an extremely efficient 50.7 percent from three, on a whopping 8.4 attempts per game.

There's no question, the 21-year-old gained a lot from the restart.

And taking on the Lakers while guarding LeBron James was an experience that Trent Jr. will never forget. 

Having an opportunity to go against the Lakers, the seeding games -- every game being a must-win -- it did nothing but help my basketball game, my career – whether it’s decision-making, learning from little plays as in you block somebody – you can’t get in their face at a certain time – just little things like that…. It was a big leap, a big jump for me.

Gary Trent Jr.

[RELATED]: Gary Trent Jr. joins LeBron James as athletes now represented by Klutch Sports

Trent Jr. is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of next season. But for now, everyone is focused on what year three will bring for GT.