Heading into the 2023-24 season, the most polarizing player on the Oklahoma City Thunder roster appears to be Lu Dort once again.
Four seasons into his career, Dort has established himself as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. On the other end of the floor, the inconsistencies are enough for portions of the fan base to voice displeasure.
An offer for Thunder fans
Dort’s struggles finishing around the rim paired with his inconsistent high-volume 3-point shooting have caused fans to wonder how much longer the Thunder can stomach the bad offensive possessions and shots.
On shots within 3 feet of the basket, Dort shot a career-low 52.1% last season. He shot 59.2% from that distance in his first three seasons.
It appears Dort is aware of the criticisms, too. He spoke about what he worked on in the offseason. During his media day availability, he mentioned he wants to be a better finisher around the rim and wants to provide spacing for OKC.
“My main thing was just to be more efficient,” Dort said. “I got in a little slump efficiency-wise and all that around the rim, but really reading what the defense gives me, honestly, and not be in a rush, taking my time.
“We have a lot of guys on our team that can make plays, so I’ve just got to really be in the right spots and space out and be ready to make the right play.”
While the actual results ultimately matter, Dort being self-aware enough to realize his offensive inefficiencies is an important first step in evolving as a player as his role will likely change with the Thunder.
If Dort can be a league-average shooter around the rim, then that’ll help him out tremendously with his long-term outlook as an NBA starter. If not, then maybe it’ll be time for a serious conversation surrounding his ceiling as an NBA player.