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Trusting Lu Dort's Development Could be Crucial for OKC

The defensive minded guard seems be thrown in every hypothetical trade package, but rewarding him with a payday could be the right move.

Lu Dort has been a fan favorite since the day he arrived in Oklahoma City. His hustle, hard work, and defensive intensity helped him carve out a role, and he’s never looked back.

After averaging 6.8 points in 36 games as an undrafted free agent, the Arizona State product has improved steadily every single year. By year three, last season, Dort was a clear second scoring option on the Thunder, recording 17.2 points per night.

The reason for the spike in scoring seems to be the confidence he started playing with. He took 7.7 3-pointers last season, converting at a 33.2% clip leaving room to improve. Another encouraging sign in his development is his jump at the free-throw line, converting at 84.3%.

The exciting part about Dort’s future development, and the next step in his game, is this is the first full, normal offseason he’s had since his rookie season. He’s been working to improve on shortened off-seasons each year in the NBA, and the steady improvement has been noticeable.

After watching the 2022 NBA Playoffs, it’s very clear how important perimeter defenders are. Watching Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, and Ja Morant dominate in the half court and transition, slowing those guys down is key to a deep playoff run.

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The next step in Dort’s development should be finding more consistency from deep and improving his offensive arsenal. He was more comfortable taking defenders off the dribble and even finding his spots in the midrange. He’s strong enough to bully his way to the rim with ease, and finishing through contact could add a few more points to his total.

Oklahoma City has been searching for a perimeter defender who can shoot 3-pointers at a high clip since the beginning of time. While Dort’s fit next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey might seem like a stretch right now, trusting his development and improvement could be the best option for the Thunder. He’s helping set the culture and foundation heading into the future and seems to be a true leader in the locker room.

While he’ll surely be due for a payday, Dort is a player that’s essential for every playoff team. His energy and hustle are unmatched, and he raises the defensive intensity when he’s on the floor.

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