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NBA Draft 2018 scouting report: Gary Trent Jr.

Kicking off a new series in preparation for the 2018 NBA Draft.

Duke v Kansas Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 33 picks.

The first installment of the series will take a glance at Duke freshman wing Gary Trent.

Many NBA Draft hopefuls will go through the process of workouts and interviews without the benefit of an agent, simply to retain the ability to go back to school if rumblings are not positive about their draft stock. For Duke freshman wing Gary Trent Jr., that is no longer an option, as the son of a nine-year NBA veteran hired representation and is in the draft to stay.

Given the presence of Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter, Grayson Allen and even Trevon Duval during his lone college season, Trent Jr. flew under the radar to a significant degree. Trent Jr., along with Allen, helped tremendously as a floor-spacer for the Blue Devils but, in the same breath, much of the NBA-focused attention was on the frontcourt and Trent Jr. is not considered anything approaching a lock for the first round.

On the bright side, the 6’6 wing does bring one (very) important skill to the table and that arrives in the form of his shooting. Trent Jr. connected on 40.2 percent of his three-point attempts as a freshman and that percentage came on real volume, with 6.5 attempts per game. There was some question about Trent Jr.’s overall upside as a shooter from his high school film but that was quickly assuaged with his college performance. In short, Trent Jr.’s clearest path to an NBA career comes as a result of his shooting and he is one of the better shooters available in the 2018 class.

The rest of Trent Jr.’s offensive game, though, brings more questions. He was able to post a 57 percent true shooting mark at Duke and, as a wing, that is perfectly acceptable. With that said, his efficiency on two-point attempts leaves plenty to be desired (Trent Jr. is a very good free throw shooter) and his shot selection was not always ideal, especially through the prism of a pure supporting role in college.

In fact, it is probably accurate to say that Trent Jr. will have to come to terms with a smaller offensive role at the NBA level than his previous shot selection would indicate he prefers. His catch-and-shoot ability is unquestioned and Trent Jr. actually does quality work in moving off screens to free himself off the ball. What he does not currently bring, though, is the ability to separate from high-level defenders off the dribble and Trent Jr. isn’t someone who profiles as a shot creator for others with impressive passing acumen.

Part of Trent Jr.’s issue in creating separation stems from a lack of elite athleticism. In the open floor, he can look explosive, throwing down highlight-worthy dunks, but his burst is simply average when it comes to NBA wings and Trent Jr. isn’t overly quick or explosive within the confines of normal play.

That also manifests on the defensive end, where Trent Jr. does not profile as a stopper despite a positive wingspan (6’9) and good strength for a player of his age. His tools, on the whole, are acceptable defensively but, as he likely transitions into the life of a 3-and-D player at the NBA level, more consistent effort on the defensive end will be required and it will be interesting to see if his strength translates into the ability to switch and also defend bigger small forwards.

Through the prism of the Atlanta Hawks, Trent Jr. would only be in theoretical consideration for the No. 30 and/or No. 33 picks, though some scouts project him as a mid-second round talent in a class that is more impressive than most. Because of his shooting ability, it would not be a surprise if a team fell in love with Trent Jr., especially if they were convinced he would “buy in” to a lesser role, letting his shooting stroke do the work and eliminating the poor shot selection that plagued him at the college level. Still, it isn’t a lock that the Hawks (or any team) would feel strongly enough about his overall package to invest a top-35 pick.

Stay tuned.