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Lu Dort has already been so many things over the past few years.
A five star recruit out of high school. A projected 1st rounder. Undrafted. G League player. Rookie starter on a playoff team. Game 7 folk hero. James Harden’s kryptonite. Steal of the draft. Best contract in the league. Twitter meme. All Defensive Team candidate. 42 point scorer.
But because his high school to college to G League to NBA journey has been so wildly unpredictable, the endgame for the best guard to ever come out of Arizona State is still a mystery. Is his improved offense a fluke due to a shortened, fan-less season sample size and he’ll come crashing back down to earth? Will he continue smashing all expectations and orbit into stardom?
Much like when The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 and kicked off the British Invasion much to the delight of millions of teenaged American girls, Thunder fans are squealing at the top of their lungs with pure unadorterated joy as a result of the Shai and Lu led Canadian Invasion. To fan the flames of hope and hype, let’s tackle some common Dort questions and hopefully inch a little closer to solving the puzzle: Who Is Lu?
Where would Lu Dort go in a 2019 re-draft?
In the top three with Zion and Ja, and he’s not going second or third. In all seriousness, after Williamson, Morant and RJ Barrett, that draft is filled with good players but no surefire studs. High offensive upside guys like Darius Garland and Tyler Herro and promising two way top 10 picks De’Andre Hunter and Rui Hachimura all likely have teams still playing Skip To My Lu, but Dort would certainly be in the mix with the likes of Coby White, P.J. Washington, Cameron Johnson and Brandon Clarke. So anywhere in the second half of the lottery, say picks 8-14 would be in play. An incredible turnaround for a player who went undrafted just 22 months ago.
Could he be traded, or is he untouchable?
Nobody on this squad, save for SGA, is certain to be safe from trades if the price is right. But the Bob Barker retail value on Lu Dort is increasing by the day. Twenty-one year old defensive aces who casually drop 40 points on a Tuesday night against the best defense in the league don’t grow on The Dollar Tree. NBA General Managers gotta get out their Amex Black Cards and go shopping at those Pretty Woman type stores if they wanna walk away with a deal for Dort.
Can he be a starter when OKC is contending again?
This question seems to be asked a lot in regards to Dort. This barely legal man started on a Thunder team last year that finished tied for the #4 seed in the Western Conference. As an undrafted rookie on a two way contract who did not practice with the team and literally just showed up to play on game days. He locked down the best offensive player on the planet in a 7 game series. And in game 7, he scored 30 points and was one blocked shot away from being series MVP over the likes of Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder. So yes, the evidence clearly suggests an offensively improved and more experienced Lu Dort could start for the next Thunder playoff team.
Is he the best contract in the league?
Technically, as long as Jeanie Buss, Dan Gilbert or Micky Arison (or Clay Bennett, once Sam Presti drafts Bronny) are writing checks to LeBron James, the one-man auto-contender is the NBA’s best contract. Since the LeBrons, KDs and Currys are worth so many more wins than the other equally paid max contracts, they’ll always bring home the greatest value. Then you have Luka Doncic, arguably already a Top 10 player on a rookie scale deal. But all of those are conventional contracts for superstars. When it comes to bang for your buck value outside the league’s 1%, you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger steal than Lu Dort for four years and $5.4 million.
What will Lu ultimately become?
On the latest episode of Crossbolts, Olivia Panchal and I debated Dort’s five year plan. I ultimately settled on the Marcus Smart career path: a high energy, high impact player in every facet of the game who is an annual All Defensive Team candidate and an integral part of the Boston Celtics’ success. Olivia likens Lu to Robert Covington: the league’s quintessential 3&D player.
We posed the question to our viewers. The court of Thunder fan public opinion is wildly torn on what prime Luguentz looks like, but as with all things Dort, most are hysterically hyperbolic. Here is a sample of my favorite answers:
@AnthonyBonta: “Kawhi dead ass”
@ckinsey001: “I think Donovan Mitchell with better D”
@HoneyBadger5719: “Russell Westbrook-esque from 2012-2013 season…but with Tony Allen defense.”
@PepsiUnited: “And no one said MJ. The disrespect continues smh”
There you have it. Who Is Lu? He is Marcus Smart, Robert Covington, Donovan Mitchell, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Allen and Michael Jordan all rolled into one. I may need to rethink my answer on that whole 2019 redraft thing.