After earning Pac 12 Freshman of the Year and Conference Defensive Team Honors, it was quite shocking to see Lu Dort go undrafted. The Thunder signed him to a Two-Way Contract, with most expecting him to be a project for down the road. Surprise! Lu Dort went on to become a critical piece of the Thunder starting lineup, displaying elite defensive principles as a rookie. In the NBA Bubble, he demonstrated improvement to his offensive game, culminating in a legendary 30-point effort in Game 7!
The player whose film I’d want Dort to watch is Marcus Smart. Both are similar in size and stature and have tremendous defensive skills. When Smart first entered the league, he was a liability offensively, but worked hard to shore up that weakness, and has become an invaluable guy on the Celtics. Being able to defend players much larger than himself and chase around guards along the perimeter has made him indispensable on the defensive end. If Dort can learn to score while cutting to the basket, finetune his three-point shooting, and continue to hone his defensive skills, his potential ceiling grows exponentially.
The more time goes by, it becomes even more insane that Lu Dort was not drafted. Twenty-nine teams royally flubbed up by not choosing him. He is secured on a long term, team-friendly deal, and will be a key player in the rebuild.
Lu Dort has immense upside offensively, not only after the 30 point outburst in that game 7 but with his above-average ability to put the ball on the floor, streaky three-point shooting which could develop into something more if his 79-percent free throw percentage is any indication of what he can be. Another important note on Lu Dort’s development is due to his two-way contract a year ago, he could not even practice with the team until the bubble period started. As Lu Dort returned to training camp on Thursday, he starts his Sophomore campaign!