Gary Trent Jr. is mastering his gravity

Gary Trent Jr. is taking the most important steps of his career.

The first step of having an elite skill is always figuring out how to implement it. Then it becomes about responding to the response. A counter, if you will. When the Raptors run Spain Leak with Gary Trent Jr. as the leaker, they might not expect that he comes wide open from the action, but that his shooting will move the defense in a way that the Raptors can take advantage of. Yes Samson well done, you've described gravity in basketball, something everyone knows.

When it comes to gravity serving Trent Jr. himself we're talking about harder closeouts, more aggressive lines taken, and the seas parting to allow him a path to the interior of the defense. For a long time, Trent Jr. has been hesitant to extend his drives past 16-feet. He was a very good pull-up shooter from the deep mid-range and from the 3-point line last year, and this year he hasn't been at all. He's been streaky in the past, so it'll likely sort itself out. Prior to this season he shot 39-percent from 16-feet to the 3-point line over hundreds of shots and this year he's sitting at 27-percent. He's taken hundreds of pull-up threes in his career and hit around 35-percent in that time. This year? 22-percent. This slump should crater his effectiveness, but it hasn't because he's started to introduce better decision making into his game.

This season, he's seen marginal gains in his frequency below the free throw line, taking more shots at the rim and from the short mid-range, respectively. He's above average within 4-feet (63-percent) for the first time since his low-volume rookie season, and he's been absolutely elite from the short mid-range (56-percent !!). We've also seen a massive jump in his free throw rate - and as we all know, the free throw line is the last bastion of consistency. This is how you survive a slump with your pull-up jumper, and it's something that he wasn't capable of in his career until this point.

"I'm just out here to play my role to the best of my ability, and do whatever I can to help this team win."

Gary Trent Jr.

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