Is Lu Dort a problem for the OKC Thunder offense?

Luguentz Dort #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Luguentz Dort #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been forced to play their last few games without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is dealing with multiple injuries, including health and safety protocols and an abdominal strain. Given SGA’s absence, the Thunder offense has obviously taken a hit and brought Lu Dort under the microscope.

Anytime Shai Gilgeous-Alexander goes out, the OKC Thunder lack a bucket-getting aggressive scorer. Someone has to fill in the gaps, and Lu Dort often rises to the occasion as the most aggressive Thunder player on the offensive end. That causes fans and media to place the wing under a tight microscope and panic about his long-term offensive game.

Is Lu Dort a problem for the Oklahoma City Thunder offense? Does he have a role moving forward that he can be effective in?

There is no question that Lu Dort is much more effective on the defensive end than on the offensive end. However, it is essential to keep things in perspective when judging Dort this season.

What a wild 53 games it has been for the Arizona State product. He started on a cold streak that was only rivaled by the Arctic glaciers before shooting 37 percent from three in November and 44 percent from beyond the arc in January. Fans have ridden that roller coaster with Dort, freaking out at each slump and crowning him with each hot spurt.

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The truth is often in the middle with things. Does Lu Dort have offensive issues? Absolutely. However, is it as bad as it is made out to be? I do not think so.

While he is still young and can get better, I am comfortable saying he is an awful finisher at the rim and will be pleasantly surprised if he ever fixes that.  Despite being built like a tank in four NBA seasons, Dort has never shot better than 56 percent at the rim, and even his career-best year, which was his rookie season, it still placed him in the 27th percentile for his position at the cup.

This season, despite improving as a rim decision-maker, he is in the 8th percentile for his position around the ring. In addition, the nearly 24-year-old is shooting a career-low 50 percent at the rim.

However, this is a situation that Dort and the Thunder can overcome. I understand if fans are tired of hearing this, but it is true: Lu Dort still needs to be put in his ideal position on the offensive end.

For as consistently bad as Lu Dort has been at the rim, he has been consistently good as a corner three-point shooter. Dort has not turned in a corner three-point percentage lower than 42 percent in the past three seasons, according to cleaning the glass.

Overall from beyond the arc this season, the defensive standout is shooting 35 percent, which is a passable average for what he brings to the table on the other end of the floor and raising the team’s intensity.

So what is the fix for the offensive lulu’s Lu Dort falls into? Flush out this roster.

As you put a healthy Chet Holmgren, a more mature and aggressive Jalen Williams, Josh Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and whoever they add in the offseason and beyond with their mountain of assets, that pushes Lu Dort down the totem pole offensively.

The more Mark Daigneault can reduce Dort into a true 3-and-D from the corner player who can keep the offense in a grove with his decision-making swinging the rock, and the better Dort will look as a player.

For now, the fourth-year guard represents one of the lone aggressive offensive players on this roster, especially with SGA on the sidelines, and that is not a role he should want to be in or a role the Thunder want him in.

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