Philly Front Office

A Look into Arizona State Frosh Guard Luguentz Dort

Freshman star guard Luguentz Dort has declared for the 2019 NBA Draft. The Sixers need someone to defend the pick-and-roll in the backcourt. How does Lu Dort fit with the Philadelphia 76ers?

On April 10th, Lu Dort made it known that he would be declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft. The Montreal native averaged a team best 16.1 points and 4.3 rebounds for the Sun Devils this year. It was an incredible season for Dort, who was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, second team All Pac-12 selection, and Pac-12 All-Defensive honoree.

Coming out of high school in Florida, Dort was widely known as a versatile scorer who was quick and strong but needed work on his shooting. In 2017, Dort participated on the World Select Team during the Nike Hoops Summit All-Star game where he put up 4 points in 8 minutes. In the 2018 Biosteel All Canadian Game, Lu Dort garnered MVP honors after putting up 34 points, 8 boards, and 2 steals in 27 minutes.

The beginning of DORT-fense…

According to ESPN, Lu Dort was a 5 star prospect and among the top 50 recruits of the 2018 class. 247Sports and Rivals had Dort pegged as a 4 star recruit, and Dort was considered the top shooting guard out of Ontario. In an interview, Dort made it known that he wanted to focus molding his skill set as a floor general. “Bobby Hurley is one of the great point guards that played the game. I feel like if I were to go there (Arizona State), I would really learn a lot about the point guard position.” On October 2018, Luguentz made it official that he would be attending Arizona State University.

Arizona State was not one of the four preseason top 25 teams (Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, Washington) from the Pac-12 to enter the 2018/19 season. The Sun Devils were projected to finish 6th in the conference and prior to the season, received the sixth most first place votes. Despite low expectations, it was an extremely successful season for the Sun Devils.  Arizona State finished the season with a 23-11 record, good for second in the Pac-12 and an 11 seed First Four round with St. John’s. Their season ended when they lost to Buffalo 91-74 in the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

“In the hot November Rain”…

Luguentz Dort’s first month of college ball was nothing short of spectacular. Dort broke the Arizona State record for a freshman debut after posting 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals versus Cal State Fullerton. After that, it only got better. In 6 games in November, Dort averaged 22.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game. His most notable game was against Utah State, where he put up 33 points and won MVP of the MGM Resorts Main Event tournament.

Dort’s strong November performances garnered him immediate national attention, being named the Pac-12 Player of the Week on November 26th and Andy Katz’s Player of the Week. Here is a fun fact: the last Sun Devil freshman to win Pac-12 Player of the Week was James Harden in 2008.

While his shooting numbers dipped during the rest of the season, Lu Dort left his mark as one of the nation’s top freshmen. Arizona State fans were very confused when Dort entered his name for the 2019 NBA Draft. While many project him in the second round, it is Dort’s intent to become a first round pick this year. Here is PFO’s Ultimate highlight reel of Luguentz Dort during his freshman campaign at Arizona State.

Where can we expect Luguentz Dort to go in the 2019 NBA Draft?

ESPN              25

NBADraft.net 45

Tankathon       37

SI.com             27

The Athletic    31

Luguentz Dort’s Strengths

Defensive Versatility: Arizona State named Dort their defensive player of the year, but he certainly showed some inconsistencies here. Dort’s biggest skill set is his defensive versatility as he’s able to guard multiple positions in the backcourt. His 6’5″ frame and 6’8.5″ wingspan helps him generate steals, where he put up 1.9 steals per 40 minutes last season.

Dort is a very active defender, which can be seen by his quick feet and high motor. While he played small ball four in college, this will not be an area that translates to the NBA. Lu Dort should be able to make a quick transition to the NBA due to his versatility on defense.

Athleticism: Dort is an explosive prospect with an incredible first step. Due to his elite athleticism, he’s able to excel in transition and has shown on countless occasions the ability to finish above the rim. This is a player that wants to finish strong at the rim on every drive. In college, Dort perhaps relied on his athleticism too much. 

There were many times when Dort would attempt a straight line drive to the rim and bully his defender. Dort’s height, weight, wingspan, quickness, and vertical athleticism combined with his fearlessness at getting contact at the rim is extremely intriguing for a shooting guard prospect. I expect to see his stock rise after he presumably tests very well in the 2019 NBA Draft Combine.

Built like a Mack truck…

Strength: Strength is something that immediately pops up when watching tape of Luguentz Dort. Dort uses his strength in the paint with extreme effectiveness. Especially in terms of drawing fouls when attacking the rim. When Lu Dort was at his peak in November 2018, he averaged 8.7 free throws a game. Similar to his scoring, those numbers dipped considerably the rest of his freshman year.

Dort finished the season with 207 free throw attempts. According to the Stepien, other freshmen guards with 250 free throw attempts were Allen Iverson, Ben Simmons, Larry Hughes, Trae Young, Collin Sexton, and Kevin Durant. I’m not comparing Lu to any of these guys, but it’s certainly reason for optimism for a shooting guard prospect.

Luguentz Dort’s Weaknesses

Shooting: Lu Dort becoming a legit NBA player begins and ends with his shooting. However, finding his shot was a non-issue as he put up 16 shots per game. It’s from the perimeter and free throw line that requires the most attention. During his freshman year, Dort shot 30.7% from 3 on 5.2 attempts and 70% from the free throw line on 7.7 free throw attempts per game. Even worse, Dort’s lower shooting percentages were most often displayed against power conference teams.

Handle/Vision: Lu Dort has a good enough handle to penetrate and get off the screen, but at this point, don’t expect him to be able to create his own shot. It’s not a negative, especially for such a raw/young prospect. Lu Dort needs time to develop, especially when it comes down to decision making with the ball in his hands.

His average of 3.7 turnovers per 40 minutes is nothing to get excited about. With the ball in his hands, there were many times when Dort was out of control, taking contested shots, getting called for offensive fouls, and failing to make the smart pass. For a prospect that publicly stated his desires to be a point guard, Lu Dort has a long, long way to go in this area.

Postseason Woes: Despite his hot start, Lu Dort cooled off significantly and really struggled during postseason play. Dort had 8 games of 20 points or more during his freshman year. However, half of those occurred before the end of December and the others were sporadic at best. In big games this past year (4, Pac-12/NCAA tournament), Dort shot 19-50 from the field (38%) and 6-22 from 3 (27%). Dort struggled mightily finding his shot against better defenses during postseason play.

In Conclusion

Luguentz Dort is your traditional “high ceiling” pick that any team should be able to find in the second round. For a guard, he’s built like a Mack truck, thrives at playing downhill on offense, and has huge potential on defense. I see Dort as a future role player that can provide solid minutes for any team that needs defensive energy in the backcourt and is willing to wait a few years for him to develop his shot.

Dort’s shooting (or lack thereof) is one of the larger reasons why Dort will most likely fall to the second round. The “first round talent” is definitely there, but so much will come down to his shooting stroke during private workouts prior to the draft.

The positives: it’s very difficult to find a prospect with his combination of defensive versatility, size, and elite first step in a guard prospect. It’s also important to note that this is a prospect that is barely scratching the surface of his offensive potential and not an easy prospect to project on the next level.

Regardless of his shooting deficiencies, Dort should be able to step on the court and make an impact based upon his physical frame. This is not an easy prospect to make an NBA comparison. Lu Dort could be a taller Nate Robinson or he could be the next Jerry Stackhouse. In my humble opinion, that range alone makes him certainly worth a toss of the dice when it comes to making a second round pick.

Luguentz Dort’s Fit with the 76ers

One of the biggest priorities for the Sixers this offseason is to find defensive help in the backcourt. The Sixers are limited when it comes to guards that can defend the pick-and-roll. Looking forward, it is highly unlikely that TJ McConnell returns next season.

While the return of Zhaire Smith should help in this area, the Sixers still need a guard that can sub in for Ben Simmons. For me, it is easy to see why Luguentz Dort could be an attractive piece for the Sixers. But let’s be clear: you have to be able to space the floor if you want minutes with Ben Simmons.

If Dort can become an average shooter, then he projects quite well in the NBA. However, as Sixers fans how many times have we asked that question over the last several years? We have been through the gauntlet of poor backcourt shooters from Tony Wroten, Michael Carter-Williams, KJ McDaniels, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and Zhaire Smith.

It is a real shame that Dort is such a below average shooter from the perimeter due to his elite ability to defend. He looks excellent defensively, but he’s years away from a finished product on offense.

The next question arises: are the Sixers in a position to wait for a draft pick to develop? The Sixers did select Zhaire Smith in the first round last year who shares many of the same attributes as Lu Dort in terms of defensive potential and being raw offensive players.

Regardless, I am all in for the Sixers taking Lu Dort with one of their 4 second round picks in this year’s draft.  I wouldn’t touch him in the first round, but he’s a high ceiling pick that I could see thriving with the Delaware Blue Coats next season. How do you feel about Luguentz Dort on the Sixers? Let us know by leaving a comment below or reaching out on Twitter!

mrcrockpot

"Some would have us go out and buy apples. But we want to build the whole orchard, and you don't get to the moon by climbing a tree."
-Sam Hinkie

Jonah Bolden commented on my first game recap for SFO.