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Are Giddey and Dort Reliable for the Future?

Something that has raised some eyebrows early on this season is the underperforming play from Josh Giddey and Luguentz Dort. They are looked upon as the 2nd and 3rd best players on this young OKC team, and maybe they still are. But if they keep playing like this, do you potentially look for a trade? Shai's help has been non existent, and it is only a matter of time until he is tired of losing. At what point do you look to start trading your assets for better talent?

(Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)

Josh Giddey - What is his potential?

Josh Giddey was selected 6th overall in the 2021 NBA draft and had a great rookie year, making all-rookie 2nd team, and averaging 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists. He just turned 20 years old under a month ago and has so much time for growth. He is a 6'8' guard/forward who is a great playmaker and all around player. He can rebound and push the pace or even throw a nice dime on a fast break. He is currently top 2 on the team in PPG, RPG, and APG. That sounds impressive, but it really isn't when you look at the rest of the team. A bright spot so far is his 3-point shooting. Last year, one of the few things Thunder fans wanted Giddey to improve on was his jumper. He only shot 26.3% on 3.9 attempts a game, but this year he is shooting about the same amount of attempts, except his percentage is up to 33.3% and his jumper looks much better. Last year his form was very slow and easy to contest/block and this year you can tell he has worked on it, as it looks much more smooth. So far this year, his numbers are 12.9 PPG (+0.4), 5.6 RPG (-2.2), and 4.9 APG (-1.5). So his points per game are slightly up, but he is shooting less efficiently overall, and his assist and rebound numbers are down. With a sixth overall pick heading into his second season, you expect those numbers to rise. He started the first 2 games of the season very well actually, dropping a double-double in both games. His 2nd game in a loss vs the Nuggets, he had 19 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and shot 2-4 from downtown. By far his best game this season. He then suffered an injury in the 3rd game of the season that caused him to miss the next 3 games, which they all won. Thunder are 3-0 without him, and 1-6 with him. Is that his fault though? The 3 most commonly used lineups for OKC with Giddey in it are all a net negative. The 3 most commonly used lineups without Giddey are a net positive. They are better in almost every aspect when he is not in the game. I do not think it will continue, and keep in mind we are only 10 games into the season, so these are small sample sizes. Giddey was excellent in the preseason and before he got injured, I think he just needs time to get into a grove.

(Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)

Lu Dort - Slump? Or is he not a shooter?

Lu Dort was signed right after the 2019 NBA draft ended. He went undrafted and of course has been a huge steal. In his first season, he was in and out of the G-League and only played 36 games for the Thunder, averaging just 6.8 PPG and 29.7% from 3. Thunder kept faith in him due to his great level of defensive play. Then the bubble came around and he built himself a name, playing some elite defense on James Harden in the first round of the playoffs, but ultimately shot awful that series before game 7, as the Rockets were leaving him open. The next 2 seasons he began to improve his jumper and shot in the low-mid 30s from behind the three-point line. His two-way level of success led him to getting a big extension with the Thunder this past summer, but what happens to a lot of young guys after they sign a big contract, is happening to Dort. He is having by far his worst shooting year of his career, just 19.3% from 3. His elite defense is still earning him playing time, as he has started in all 10 games so far, but when you are on this Thunder team who desperately need shooting, this is not going to cut it. He has only had one above average shooting night, where he shot 3-8 on three-pointers in the win against Orlando. His poor shooting is one of the many reasons the Thunder couldn't hold on against the Pistons last night. He has shown he can be a reliable shooter on high volume. He took nearly 8 3's a game last season and was around the 34% mark, and I believe he can end the season at least 32%. Still isn't ideal, but it can do the job.


Outside of SGA, the Thunder lack consistent guys. If guys like Giddey and Dort continue to struggle for a year or two, I expect a trade for another guy that can create his own shot and/or some height. Thunder have been running a lot of small ball, especially when Pokusevski is out. This has led to poor rebounding and collapses in late games.

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