Opinion: Amidst draft hype, Lu Dort could be the key piece to OKC’s future

The newest Thunder era is here and it’s co-headlined by Luguentz Dort, a 6-foot-3 Canadian defensive stopper with a knack for shattering offensive expectations
Author:
Publish date:

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Paul George, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort.

The different Thunder eras are evident within the list, which details the few players who have scored more than 40 points in a game for the franchise.

But the days of the MVP trio and ‘Playoff P’ seem far removed.

Luckily for Thunder fans, the newest era is here, and it's co-headlined by a 6-foot-3 Canadian defensive stopper with a knack for shattering offensive expectations.

On Tuesday, Dort scorched the Jazz for 42 points on 7-for-11 three-point shooting. It was a performance not even Dort himself could’ve expected.

“Nah,” Dort said smiling. “Coming in the NBA? Nah. I didn’t think about having a game shooting 31 times. But, you know, that happened tonight.”

The early comparison for Dort was Andre Roberson. Consider that expectation shattered.

At 12.6 points per game this season, Dort has nearly doubled Roberson’s best offensive season, when he scored 6.6 points per game while shooting 24% from three-point land.

The next comparison was Marcus Smart. Dort may not be there yet, but there’s telltale signs he will be soon.

The 21-year-old sophomore is scoring just 0.8 points less than 26-year-old Smart. On Tuesday, he surpassed Smart’s career high of 37 points.

Stardom seems obtainable for Dort. Role players don’t have 30-point Game 7’s, or score 42 points while playing elite defense on Donovan Mitchell for 36 minutes.

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault made sure to not let Dort's offensive night overshadow his defensive effort.

"For a guy that had it cooking the way that he did, the thing that is quietly the most impressive thing to me is what he did with Mitchell." Daigneault said following the game. "For him to exert that kind of energy on offense and still throw his fastball defensively is beyond difficult to do.

"And on the list of guys that can get 40 in a game, when you start looking at who can do that on the defensive end to complement it, the list gets much shorter. And he just did that tonight."

There’s obvious improvement to be made in Dort’s offensive game, and his stardom level is now entirely dependent on his replication of nights like Tuesday.

“That’s nice being in that category, it’s big players.” Dort said of making the 40-point list. “That’s my goal, I’m trying to be one of the best in this league. To keep improving — I’m happy.”