Second-Round Candidate: Gary Trent Jr.
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ID CARD: 6-foot-5¾ shooting guard, Duke, freshman, 19 years old
DRAFT RANGE: Ranked 39th by ESPN.com; 42nd by SI.com; 20th among guards by NBA.com
SCOUTS LOVE: It takes some projection, but Trent – son of a solid NBA journeyman who played nine years with four franchises – could develop into a solid or better scoring wing. Like fellow Duke frosh and one-and-done players Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter and Trevon Duval, Trent was a five-star recruit who had to play a similar role – a secondary role, in other words – in college as he’ll likely have to play in the NBA. Trent hit 40 percent of his 3-point shots and took more than half of his field-goal tries, 6.5 a game, from the arc. In an era where the 3-point shot becomes more integral to offenses every season, Trent’s standing as one of the premier shooters in this draft class stands as his biggest appeal to teams on draft night.
SCOUTS WONDER: What other tool in Trent’s bag can be developed to complement his shooting and enable him to prove worthy of a draft pick and challenge for a spot in someone’s rotation? Duke’s perimeter defense was shaky enough this season that Mike Krzyzewski eventually had to change course and become an almost exclusively zone team. Trent has enough of a physical profile – a solid 204-pound frame and nearly a 6-foot-9 wing span – to suggest he can develop into a capable defender. The book on Trent is that he isn’t an explosive athlete, though teams might find differently in predraft workouts. He’s 19, which means there’s probably plenty Trent can do to add strength and improve quickness and agility.
NUMBER TO NOTE: 2.99 – Trent’s time in the shuttle run at the NBA draft combine was one sample of an athletic profile that defies conventional wisdom about his middling athleticism. That was sixth best at the combine. His sprint time was 13th best. His standing vertical leap of 33½ inches was third best and his maximum vertical of 39½ was less than 3 inches off the top showing.
MONEY QUOTE: “Y’all only saw my son do the speed limit. If you take a Bugatti and put it on a pedestrian street, you’re only allowed to use 60 miles per hour. Because the car is driving 60 miles per hour, does that mean it cannot go 200 miles per hour? That’s how I feel about my son’s talent.” – Gary Trent as reported by Jonathan M. Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer on how his son didn’t get to show all of his game while blending in with Duke’s loaded roster.
PISTONS FIT: While there is far less angst about rigid adherence to position slotting these days, it’s also true that you’ve got to be able to guard a position to play it more than occasionally. So can Trent guard small forwards as well as shooting guards? Maybe. With Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard, plus Langston Galloway, the Pistons don’t have an immediate need at shooting guard, though Bullock will be a free agent after the 2018-19 season and the Pistons will be challenged to retain him in free agency.
BOTTOM LINE: If the front office sees more upside than questions with Trent, the roster and a greater need at small forward than shooting guard is unlikely to deter them from grabbing Trent with the 42nd pick – the only one the Pistons hold for next week’s draft. At 19 and with plenty of development work ahead of him before Trent realistically would factor into the rotation, the timeline for Trent to challenge for a role is more likely to be 2019-20 and beyond. It remains to be seen how a new Pistons management team will utilize their G League Grand Rapids Drive affiliate, but Trent would seem a prime candidate to spend a good chunk of time learning the NBA game at that level. With shooting at a premium and Trent managing to hit 40 percent as a college freshman while learning how to fit in among the typical Duke gaggle of NBA prospects, it should surprise no one if he were to show up on the short list of Pistons possibilities at 42.