It's not common for undrafted free agents to make an NBA roster the following season. Let alone getting any consistent playing time if they do make a roster. Meaning they probably won't start on a playoff team either. But there are exceptions, and former Arizona State star Luguentz Dort is just that. Dort is the first player to go undrafted as a rookie and then start in the playoffs the following year since Wesley Matthews did so for the Utah Jazz in 2010. So let's retrace Dort's footsteps to see how his journey led him to being a rookie undrafted free agent to now a starter in the first round of the playoffs for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Dort was born in Montreal, Quebec, to parents of Haitian descent. The Canadian grew up in Montreal North and primarily played soccer as a goaltender until his brothers persuaded him to play basketball. Dort played organized basketball for the first time when he was 12 years old, and never looked back.
During high school, Dort competed for Canada in the Adidas Nations tournament in 2015 and 2016 while also playing for Brookwood Elite of the AAU circuit. He played at different schools all four years. After his freshman year, he moved to Jacksonville, Florida, to play at Arlington Country Day School to face better competition and improve his English skills as his first language was French. The transferring continued for Dort as he followed his former Arlington coach Shaun Wiseman to Conrad Academy in Orlando for his junior season.
Dort's name started gaining more recognition after he was invited to the Nike Hoops Summit All-Star game as he played for the World Team alongside star players such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and R.J. Barrett. Then on October 18 of 2017, Dort committed to Bobby Hurley and Arizona State to play basketball. He was the Sun Devils highest recruit since a guy named James Harden took Tempe by storm. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound guard finished his senior season by returning to Canada to play at the Athlete Institute in Ontario, as he was considered a 5-star recruit by ESPN.
When Dort stepped foot on campus in 2018, coach Hurley was as excited as Sun Devil nation and had high praise for the then-freshman. "He doesn't look like a freshman at all. He makes plays all over the court… he has a maturity about him," Hurley said to reporters after a team practice in October of 2018.
Dort made his debut for ASU on November 6, 2018, and set the school record for most points scored by a freshman in their debut after tallying 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals in a double-overtime win over Cal State Fullerton. Dort was touted for his tough play and outstanding defense as he earned PAC-12 freshman of the year and second-team all PAC-12 honors after finishing the season averaging 16.1 points and 1.5 steals per game while leading the Devils to a 23-11 record and an NCAA tournament berth.
On April 10, 2019, the freshman declared for that year's NBA Draft, forgoing his final three years of eligibility. Dort ended up going undrafted after projections had him going anywhere from late-first round on. He ended up signing a two-way contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder and got on the court earlier than most undrafted players do. The 21-year-old made his NBA debut for the Thunder on December 6, 2019, and ended up appearing in 36 games during the regular season, starting in 28 of them.
Dort is now making his presence felt in the bubble during OKC's playoff run in Orlando, and he doesn't have an easy task either. His job is to defend and follow the league's best scorer, former MVP and fellow Sun Devil alum James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Now, this rookie, an undrafted free agent, is contributing as a starter for a playoff squad. The path was unconventional, but I'd say Dort is thrilled with how his career has turned out thus far.