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Deck, Shai, Dort … and Draft: the future of the Thunder

The name Luguentz Dort will be familiar to almost everyone. Even the uninitiated in the NBA. At the very least, those who inhabit the Twitter universe, which is not always as representative as it is believed. The name of the Thunder player, along with the nickname ‘bison’, went viral several weeks ago through the busy social network. The hypocenter was located in Spain and the epicenter, in Oklahoma City itself, when Luguentz himself echoed the widely shared phrase: Dort. Bison Dort. The construction could not be more appropriate. The bison, that wild bovid similar to the bull that no one would like to come across, is as intimidating as Luguentz on the track, where he is establishing himself as one of the great defenders of the competition. Outside, he shapes the franchise mascot, an indispensable part of all sports culture; soul that, to this day, also embodies Dort.

From the hand of Sam Presti, their general manager, the Thunder are looking for each other, in every way. Right now, they are a team without close aspirations, without big names and, as a consequence, with a vacuum of identity that hopes to be gradually taken over. 34 draft picks, one after another, and from now until 2027, will reveal the names. They have been joined by Gabriel Deck, who convinces: “It surprises me how risky it is. It is very difficult to come and fit into a team that you don’t know. He is very aggressive to play, if you see him on the field, you think he has played with us all season. He has impressed me a lot within the team. field, “says his coach, Mark Daigneault. If nothing goes wrong, everything suggests that he will extend his contract until those three years that, to this day, are not guaranteed. Part of uAn unparalleled revolution: full stop, clean slate, clean sheet, etc. Multiple denominations for a movement traditional in the history of American competition, but never pushed to such limits. 17 rounds of first choice and another 17 of second that constitute an almost unique phenomenon: the Schrödinger franchise. Its potential is there, but it is not at the same time. An all or nothing to a future that, along the way, finds certainties. Welcome to them.

Patchwork of present

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, at 22, is the main one. A cornerstone around which an ambitious project can be built. In his third season in the NBA, he was called to stride, almost out of obligation. With the departures of Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Chris Paul or Dennis Schröder, many spotlights were left orphaned by stars to light. Shai, until plantar fasciitis allowed it, has shone as such: 23.7 points per game, 4.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists as a sign of an expected and necessary evolution. Something recognizable for a team without a face and a dose of arguments to believe. All-Star level, established franchise player nights and signs of atypical self-sufficiency: until the injury, he was the player in the league who generated the most points on his own. But he has not been as lonely as expected. Darius Bazley, in his sophomore season, has gone from just over five average points to over twelve, also improving in assists and rebounds; Y Pokusevski, after being selected in the 17th position in the draft and a fruitful time in the G League, has had a great impact, both because of how he has affected the team (even assuming visible modifications in the system) as well as its striking game, the result of an extremely slim body and with the characteristics of what is known in the NBA as a unicorn.

Pieces that can settle in that uncertain future. Among them, that of Lu Dort, who, despite a remarkably constant season, has grown even more in the absence of Shai, emerging as interim leader. He already showed signs of his potential during last season, his first, when, after falling out of the draft positions, he made an impact, first, in the development league and then in the NBA. With the Blue, Oklahoma’s affiliate team, he averaged 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists; with the majors, 6.8 points that exploded in the playoffs, with 30 points in the seventh game against the Houston Rockets, where James Harden also stood out for his defense. He became the third player under the age of 21, after Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, to score at least 25 points in a seventh playoff game. Stampede on the way.

In April, after an absence of seven games, he averaged 24.4 points and 5.3 rebounds, with exhibitions of up to 42 points that, however, have not been able to avoid an endless sequence of defeats. Except for surprise, the general trend until the little that remains of the season ends. Like his growth, if absences allow it. Before his ubiquitous appearance on Twitter due to puns, Dort had already timidly plunged into the waters of viral freaks. A defense to LeBron, in which he used his hand to obstruct the vision of the Lakers star, began to circulate at high speed. Bison things. Dort is a force of nature. After Theo Maledon, another of the young bets of the franchise that leaves sparkles, he is the player on the team with the most robberies, as well as the fourth player with the most defensive responsibility. Remarkable statistics, but that do not do justice to his real defensive incidence, considered among the most important in the league (some voices mention him among the All Defensive), although tarnished by the team’s record. Dort, bison Dort, it’s not just a joke.

“It was one of my best matches on clay”

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