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How Long Can Lu Dort Sustain His Recent Offensive Success?

The former undrafted free agent is on a hot streak, but will it become the norm?

Lu Dort’s “cold” scoring streak was short-lived.

After scoring 20 points or more in five straight games, the longest streak of his career, Dort had three off nights.

With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out of the lineup for the second straight game on Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz, the career 12-point scorer got hot again, bouncing back to lead all scorers with 27 points in the loss.

Dort did all of his offensive damage while also checking Utah’s best player, holding Donovan Mitchell to 13 points on 6-of-16 shooting.

High-end production on both ends of the floor has become something Dort is accustomed to, no matter how hard it is to replicate night-in and night-out.

“It’s hard,” Dort said after the game on Wednesday. “It’s not easy. Sometimes I just get tired but I just gotta push through. I know I put myself in that position and I know I can push through when I’m tired. So I feel like I’m used to it now, just going hard on both ends of the floor. So I’ll just keep doing it.”

When the former undrafted free agent got off to a scorching hot shot from deep in the preseason, many wrote it off as simply that, a hot streak confined to exhibition games.

Not only has Dort been able to keep up his career pace from beyond the arc, knocking down 42.8 percent of attempts from deep, but he’s found ways to consistently put the ball on the deck and finish at the rim.

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The Canadian has been the biggest beneficiary of the spacing provided by guards Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, who both bring a high level of playmaking and ball movement to the table, allowing the ball to find Dort plenty within the flow of the offense.

Dort is converting buckets at a 70 percent clip from inside three feet, a huge jump from last year when he only made 56.4 percent of his attempts from three feet or closer.

Once known as purely a defensive stopper, Dort’s offense looks downright sustainable right now, a great sign for the Thunder.

And Dort is far from content with his improved levels of play. After going from an undrafted free agent to a key cog in the Oklahoma City machine, Dort said he’s focused every day on tapping into the same levels of energy which saw him earn a roster spot off of his two-way deal.

“It was tough for me, just my journey coming to the NBA,” Dort said. “But now I’m here and I just got to look forward. That’s where I wanted to be, and that’s where I’m at right now. So I’ve just got to keep proving and keep playing hard, and I feel like I’m putting myself in a good position.”

Bringing All-NBA levels of defense as an undrafted free agent always was going to mean that finding Dort was a home run for Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti, but the added offense could speed up OKC’s rebuild by a few years as the franchise appears to have found their small forward of the future.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl also appears to be a legitimate piece for the Thunder, whether in the starting lineup or off the bench, meaning the Thunder could be a consistent power forward and potentially a difference making center away from being back in the playoff hunt for one of the final spots in the Western Conference. 

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