Undrafted rookie -> NBA G League -> bench player -> starter-> shutting down one of the best scorers in today's NBA. That's per Aspera ad Astra if I've ever seen one, with OKC'sLuguentz Dort playing the lead role.
Dort is crazy! I’m not even going to lie, I didn’t even know who that was. That dude was sliding them feet on everybody! We couldn’t wait to get him off of the court. Fu*kin' Dort, man.
I'm not sure about sliding them feet on everybody. Harassing them may be a better way to put it. At 6-3, 220 pounds, and football-like build, that's exactly who Dort is - ultimate defensive pest.
Luguentz's strong frame, combined with great defensive instincts and an extremely high motor, already makes him one of the best perimeter defenders in the association. A 7-game sample size of guarding James Harden, arguably the league's best offensive player, verifies it.
His lower body strength, combined with great lateral quickness, allows him to maintain the low defensive stance without taking a toll on his zig-zagging while guarding the ball handler. That, along with his 6'8 wingspan, allows him to cover huge ground on the defensive end, where he's also able to recover and contest bigger guys due to his incredible explosiveness.
That's why, whether he's guarding the ball handler, fighting through screens, or playing the passing lanes, Dort has the tools to thrive. Once again, his defense on James Harden proved it. As his primary defender, Dort held The Beard to 10.8 points on 31.4% shooting from the field, including 26.3% from 3-point range, over the course of seven games. In his first playoff series ever!
Looking at him, a guy like Marcus Smart immediately comes to mind. Physicality wise, they're a carbon copy of each other. However, where they differ is their personality. All the antics that come with Smart, all the extra stuff that he often takes one step too far, none of that comes with Dort. He's a humble, hardworking, team-oriented 21-year-old, whose game is only going up from here.
I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot more 'Fu*kin' Dort, man' in the future.