Does Gary Trent Jr.'s scoring style fit Raptors' needs?
Imman Adan and Asad Alvi analyze Gary Trent Jr.'s season with the Raptors and discuss whether or not he's the kind of scorer their roster requires. Listen to the full podcast on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed, where we hand out grades to each bench player.
ASAD ALVI: One of the reasons why, like, I struggled with the conversation at the beginning of the season to start Precious over him was one, I think A, he's a better player than Precious. But B, he is actually not a good creator-- like, a shot creator.
He is actually not good because, like, outside of a step-back mid-range jumper, he really doesn't have any type of creation abilities. And even if he is able to create for himself, he can't leverage any of the advantages with any playmaking. He just does not have any playmaking abilities.
IMMAN ADAN: That was it for me, yeah.
ASAD ALVI: So when he went to the bench, and now, suddenly, he has to be the guy creating offense, you just have these iso possessions that are starting from 30 feet out and ending with him taking a sidestep 3 or a step-back mid-range jumper where-- and it's not even that it's dynamic. It's fairly static.
Like, he's a fairly stiff mover with the ball. He doesn't really get downhill much.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
ASAD ALVI: And that really hurt him as a bench player. Like, a lot of his-- he was a near 40-- I think 38% or 39% catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter. But he was, like, 20-- I think he was, like, under 30% on pull-ups. He takes a lot of shots above the break, which are more difficult.
But for his very hyper-specific role of just being a scorer, especially a microwave scorer, he was nowhere near good enough when he came off the bench. And especially just-- it was shocking, especially in the second half. And I know he dealt with injury issues and stuff, so--
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah--
ASAD ALVI: --you've got to give him a bit of a pass because--
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
ASAD ALVI: --for what it's worth, like, Gary has been, like, an automatic bucket when you get him an open catch-and-shoot. And he wasn't even hitting those for-- like, near the end of the season, where you're just getting these wide open looks, and he's just complete-- like, that Lakers game. That road trip for him was just, like, unbelievably bad.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
ASAD ALVI: And that was bad for both Precious and Gary. But, like, Gary was like, hey, you're the guy coming off the bench, and you can't get a bucket? Like, not a single made basket? That is-- that's rough.
And I think that kind of play is at the top of your mind where it's like, hey, as a starter, all he does is finish plays. He doesn't actually create for anybody else or-- anybody else. Like, a lot of his 3's were created by Pascal Siakam.
Outside of playing with Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent really struggles with his game. He does not play well unless he's playing a fair number of minutes with Pascal Siakam. And Pascal happens to be the guy who gets doubled the most and draws the most attention, and then gives you the most open shots on this team, right?
So there is a definite, like, Gary's a starter level player coming off the bench. He's just, like, maxed out his catch-and-shoot-- like, his shooting ability. He's, like, maxed that out as much as he can from a set position. Like, set shooting, he's really good at.
IMMAN ADAN: Right.
ASAD ALVI: But then the other skills that kind of build up, like the guys who are some of the best scorers in the game-- and if you want to really think of a comp for him, like, you would look at a Buddy Hield or a Tim Hardaway, Jr.
Buddy Hield-- great movement shooter. He gets downhill. He's one of the best 3-point shooters in the game, right?
IMMAN ADAN: Period.
ASAD ALVI: Gary Trent, Jr., isn't at that level at all, 3-point shooting. He's a good 3-point shooter. He's a pretty elite--
IMMAN ADAN: Few are.
ASAD ALVI: --but he's not, like, lethal yet.
IMMAN ADAN: Few are, right, yeah.
ASAD ALVI: Tim Hardaway, Jr., is another guy who is able to get downhill.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
ASAD ALVI: Before the injuries especially, he was, like, great at pull-up 3-point shooting and getting downhill, even though he was tunnel vision where it's like, hey, Gary, you can be tunnel vision, but just create something a little bit more. Like, be able to create a more significant advantage.
And that's why when you look at, oh, the Raptors are bottom in effective field goal percentage, right, you have to think of, like, part of it's development. Like, you have Scottie Barnes taking a ton of mid-range jumpers and not shooting them well.
IMMAN ADAN: OG as well.
ASAD ALVI: That's part of his development. You've got OG shooting mid-range jumpers now. You have a lot of players that, like, settle for mid-range jumpers on this team. And very few of them are actually very good at them. So--
IMMAN ADAN: That's spacing for the Raptors. The Raptors' spacing is 10 feet out.
ASAD ALVI: Exactly. And if Gary Trent, Jr., who's going to be your 3-point shooter and a volume 3-point shooter is also just, like, he takes 3's and mid-range jumpers-- and I think that's the biggest difference between him and a Norman Powell, where--
IMMAN ADAN: Right, he can get downhill.
ASAD ALVI: --Norm was at the rim or at the line.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
ASAD ALVI: While Gary is two levels, and the one level he's missing is, like, one of the most important levels for a guard, which is--
IMMAN ADAN: Well, I think that's, like, the biggest issue for the Raptors as you look across the board--
ASAD ALVI: Just don't have anyone that gets downhill.
IMMAN ADAN: Malachi Flynn does not get downhill. Dalano Banton does not have a handle strong enough to get him downhill. Fred VanVleet-- like, Fred is Fred. And, like, that's a conversation for the other one.
ASAD ALVI: Like, Fred getting downhill is not like a downhill drive to score.
IMMAN ADAN: We're talking drive and kick Fred.
ASAD ALVI: But he does a really good job creating out of getting downhill. So, like, you live with it.
IMMAN ADAN: And that's fair. Fred is getting you your paint touches. Like, the fact of the matter is, when the ball is in any of these other guys' hand, including Scottie Barnes, and they're asked to be the point guard, the Raptors offense is being set up from the 3-point line. Like, it's just-- you're not getting inside at all.
ASAD ALVI: And that was just the offensive conversation with Gary Trent, Jr. But he--
IMMAN ADAN: We're not going to do the defensive one.
ASAD ALVI: --he completely fell off defensively this season, to the point--
IMMAN ADAN: We'll just blame that on the coach. We'll just--
ASAD ALVI: I don't think you can blame it on the coach when you're just getting actively targeted by every single team.
IMMAN ADAN: Tuned out, that's the scapegoat that I'm rolling with right now, OK? You get one, you roll with it. But no, I think that that's sort of the conversation about Gary Trent, Jr., and his inability to get downhill. It's the issue with the Raptors-- you don't have any guard that can do that for you.