Lu Dort
Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

I was wrong about the Thunder. I thought Chris Paul was washed up, Danilo Gallinari was too injury prone, Dennis Schroeder unproven, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander too young, Steven Adams too limited. They deserved more credit. It seemed as if the Thunder would be out of playoff contention at least for a bit when Russell Westbrook was traded. I was thoroughly surprised when they not just contended for the playoffs but clinched a playoff spot already. For some teams, that’s enough, but I honestly think that the Thunder have a great chance to be a dark horse contender. However, in order for that to happen, all of their players need to get on board, including the Thunder’s X Factor Lu Dort.

Lu Dort hasn’t played many games with the Thunder this season due to him being a 2-way player. But he’s immediately made his presence felt since he has started 21 of 29 games. He’s only a rookie, if you didn’t know. While his offensive production is just so/so, his defense is what is key for the Thunder. Playing for Arizona State, Lu Dort was on the Pac-12 All-Defense team. He’s also stated that he takes pride into his defense. His defense is what earned him a full-time contract so he can play in Orlando for the season restart.

Lu Dort Stats

Lu Dort currently averages 6.2 PPG, .7 APG, and 1.9 RPG. This is why I can hate stats sometimes. They can be misleading and not always should the full story. Dort is way better than this. He’s had some flashes of brilliance, including a 23 point game back in January. But as mentioned, his defense is more important to the Thunder. Schroeder has never been known for defense, although Chris Paul is still decent, he’s getting older. SGA is okay at defense, but you don’t want to rely on that. While Gallinari has improved defensively, he could use some help.

For a long time, Andre Roberson was their defensive go-to, but for God’s sake, he hasn’t played any games for the last two seasons. For one, you have to hope he’s even healthy to come back. Secondly, can he even play at a high level anymore? Third, dude couldn’t even shoot! KD left the Thunder cause of this. Lu Dort comes in and fills the role of Andre Roberson for the Thunder. He already has a better offensive skill set than Roberson. Roberson’s job was to defend the best player and not really worry about anything else. Lu Dort can do that and may even get you a couple of buckets at the other end. 

Lu Dort is the Thunder’s X Factor because he is the defensive wing that will help limit other teams’ stars. Lord knows the West is filled with Wing talent. Lu Dort can help limit that so the 3-headed monster of guards in Chris Paul, Dennis Schroeder, and SGA with Daniel Gallinari can focus on scoring. There’s no doubt the Thunder can score but the more they can limit other teams’ stars, the better their chances will be. Lu Dort may only be a rookie but his role is already important for the Thunder. If the Thunder surprise some people by upsetting a few teams in the playoffs, don’t be surprised if Lu Dort was a big reason for it.

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