Everyone in the NBA, especially OKC Thunder fans, realizes Luguentz Dort is one of the best wing defenders. At just 22 years of age, Lu Dort has already made suffocating defense his calling card. The 2020-21 season was only his second season in the NBA and he was already sniffing at an All-Defense team selection.
Dort was ranked 3rd among guards who missed the All-Defense teams in the 2020-21 season behind Mikal Bridges and Marcus Smart. The guards who made it onto the All-Defense teams were Jrue Holiday (1st Team), Ben Simmons (1st Team), Jimmy Butler (2nd Team) and Matisse Thybulle (2nd Team).
Now, Dort is good, but is he good enough to knock any of those players out? We have compiled a checklist for Dort to make an All-Defense team in 2022.
This one sounds straightforward enough, but the best way to get the OKC Thunder guard onto an All-Defense list is for Dort to continue improving. He averaged 0.9 steals per game last season, meanwhile, the guards who did make the team all averaged 1.6 steals per game and Butler lead the league with 2.1 steals. Dort’s on-ball harassing style of defense is similar to Jrue Holiday’s and can generate steals easily this way. With being the focal point of OKC’s defense, it would make sense for Dort to focus on not just disrupting the opposing player’s shot, but also find the best ways to strip the opponent before the shot takes place.
OKC Thunder Team Defense
Unfortunately for Dort, he is the only name mentioned above who is on a non-playoff team. The Win-Loss record plays a role in these selections and OKC will put Dort at a disadvantage, or that’s what we would normally think.
Across the whole 2020-21 season, Dort’s on-off defensive impact took the OKC Thunder from the 29th ranked defense when he was off the court to the 26th ranked defense when he was on the court. Now, a lot is going on in these figures, and OKC tanking to finish the season would not help his case.
If the team can sport a league-average defensive rating with Dort on the court this coming season, and still have a horrendous defensive rating when he is off the court, it could help highlight his impact as a defender.
Defensive highlight plays
Narratives drive NBA conversations all the time, and what better way to get the Dorture Chamber narrative ticking than a good highlight play. If the Sixers can sell Simmons as defensive player of the year all season, Thunder can sell Dort as an All-Defense candidate, right? If Dort can get more defensive plays like this against the likes of Lebron, the narrative will quickly build.
Now this one is not about Lu Dort, but his competition and the potential changes in the field. With Kyle Lowry joining Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat this season, Butler could now see his defensive position change from Guard to forward, leaving an empty spot for Dort on the All-Defense ballot.
Ben Simmons’ future is in the air right now and depending on who he plays for this season he may finally realize that he is a power forward after all. If that is the case, again there will be an empty guard spot for Dort.
While many OKC fans will be expecting this season to be another year of tanking, it does not mean there is nothing to root for.
One thing everyone can support is a Lu Dort All-Defense campaign, and with the speed that he is developing as a player, it is only a matter of when not if, he eventually makes that All-Defense team.