After winning four straight games, the Thunder were handed back-to-back losses at home on back-to-back nights at the Paycom Center.
A competitive game against old frenemies Kevin Durant and James Harden turned into a 4th quarter blowout on Sunday. And just 24 hours later, it was rinse and repeat as OKC kept it close with Miami until Tyler Herro and Co turned up the Heat late for a double digit Thunder loss.
But for the 2021-2022 Thunder, the wins and losses aren’t as important as developing young talent for the future. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to look the part of a budding superstar. And Josh Giddey is already becoming a fan favorite as his nightly flirting with triple doubles has the 19 year old Aussie in the Rookie of the Year conversation. Over the last handful of games, though, another member of the youth core has stood out.
Lu Dort has now scored 20 or more points in four straight games. And while SGA led OKC in scoring in each of the team’s first eight games, his fellow Canadian has topped the Thunder in points in three out of their last four contests. Not bad for an third year player that was considered a defensive specialist and went undrafted because scouts and front offices thought he couldn’t shoot.
“Always stay confident. I’ve been working hard on my offensive side. I just gotta be confident enough to take the shots and make the right play,” Dort said on Monday night when asked about his improved offensive production. “I’m not really surprised. I felt like I have really put the effort in and it’s showing on the court.”
Dort is right. He averaged 6.8 points his rookie season. His sophomore season saw a Dort double up, as he averaged 14 points per game. This season, he’s even better. Dort is averaging 15.8 points per game and he’s doing so more efficiently. For the first time in his career, the 22 year old’s effective field goal percentage is over 50%.
So while the standings show OKC has dropped two home games in a row, Lu Dort’s continued offensive improvement, to go along with his already elite offense, is a big win for the Thunder.