Luguentz Dort, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Canadian defensive ace, has seen an offensive surge 29 games into the season.
Since the Thunder began their rebuild in 2020, they needed to know how Dort would develop. He just had the playoff series of his life in the bubble against the Houston Rockets, making life very difficult for superstar guard James Harden, and he had 30 points in a losing effort in Game 7.
There were many ups and downs during these three years, from 2020-23. He received plenty of on-ball reps, which increased his points each season, but the effectiveness and efficiency were not there.
Dort had very noticeable hot and cold stretches from the three-point line and was never viewed as a good shooter, although he took a high volume of three-point attempts.
The fan base was starting to grow very frustrated with Dort. While his defensive production remained high, he hijacked and stalled the offense many times. A pull-up three in transition here and an off-the-dribble contested mid-range pull-up there, and his finishing around the rim was suspect.
He was the talk of many trades every summer and offseason, but with the Thunder at 21-9 this season, we now have the ideal version of Dort.
Lu Dort Has Finally Found a Consistent Role
Dort Is Having a Career Year Thus Far
Dort is averaging 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists while shooting 45.5% from the field and 41.3% from three, both career highs.
Some other notable stats and observations are:
- Rim numbers are up: 59.7%
- An improved in-between game
- Averaging under one turnover per game
- Lowest usage rate/FGA since rookie season
- Maintaining defensive value
- Career high 60.7% true shooting
He’s also shooting a career-high 45.1% on above-the-break threes (37/82) and 34.1% on corner threes (15/44).
It’s still too early to know how sustainable this is. While his shooting will likely cool off a bit, even if he goes down to 37-38% from three, this is the best you could expect from Dort.
Dort Is Still Elite on the Defensive End
Dort’s defense is vital to this Thunder team and its identity.
In a league where superstars get theirs every single game, Dort is a limiter. A chest-up here, an offensive foul drew there; bit by bit, Dort can whittle down even the league’s best offensive engines. By the end of games, he’s typically helped Oklahoma City a few possessions and has put himself in a position to make defensive plays in crunch time.
Head coach Mark Daigneault had this to say about Dort’s competitiveness on the defensive end:
He’s just a dog competitively. Guys hit big shots, and they make faces where they’re like reacting to the shot they just hit. When he lined up on Curry on that last possession, he kinda has that on defense… He loves that moment.
Suffice it to say, Dort’s nightmarish on-ball defense and his solid shooting so far have been a good thing for the Thunder.
And for all the talk of how tradeable Dort’s contract will be for OKC, if and when the time comes — with Chet Holmgren set to protect the rim for the foreseeable future — he feels like a mainstay and necessity in the Thunder lineup.