Luguentz Dort wouldn’t be a great fit for the Indiana Pacers

Luguentz Dort visited the Indiana Pacers for a pre-draft workout. He is projected all over the place in mock drafts, but how does he project to the NBA?

Arizona State landed Luguentz Dort out of high school, a remarkable feat for that program. Dort was a top-50 recruit and a huge get for the Sun Devils. His expectations at Arizona State were through the roof before he even stepped foot on a college court.

After several years of struggling in the Pac-12, Arizona State finally had reason to be hopeful. Dort helped carry them to a 23-11 record last season, good for second in the conference. That was their highest finish since 2009-10.

Luguentz Dort is a terrific combo guard with superb athleticism. His lone season at Arizona State was filled with highlight plays and stuffed stat sheets. He has the finishing ability to make him an offensive force in the NBA. A more consistent game will go a long way for Dort.

Since the Indiana Pacers brought him in for a visit, it’s only fair we take a closer look. Here is what Luguentz Dort brings to the table.

The good: Dort showed a ton of promise

The first thing you’ll notice when watching Dort is his ability to attack the rim. He uses a variety of dribble moves to create a lane to the rack. Generally, Dort does a good job of getting to the basket for a layup, whether it be in traffic or wide open.

He also utilizes a handful of finishing moves to separate himself from the defender. Dort welcomes contact and goes up strong, finishing the play. It helps that he is a great athlete, allowing him to hang in the air and adjust as needed. Here’s a clip of Dort acrobatically altering his shot and getting the bucket.

His ability to create for himself is a big bonus for Dort. However, his play off the ball is what teams should covet more. From what I’ve seen, Dort does a great job of finding ways to get open without the ball. He often cuts backdoor and gets easy looks at the rim.

Dort does a great job of timing his runs when the defender takes his eyes off of him. Since he finishes at the rim well, cutting back door and into the teeth of the defense is not an issue for Dort. That is something that may draw the Pacers in. They need scorers who can create both with the ball and in space.

The aggressive play on offense will open passing lanes as well. If Dort can improve his passing ability on drives, he will be a scary threat on offense.

Dort managed to show some potential on the defensive end, too. He was named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team as a freshman. Fellow draft hopeful Matisse Thybulle was also named to the All-Defensive Team. His 1.5 steals per game were a big reason why. Dort is very instinctive on that end, jumping in passing lanes and tipping passes. His length makes up for any size concerns. Dort has a 6’8” wingspan to improve his 6’4” frame as a likely two-guard. The length and athleticism will allow Dort to defend both guard spots in the NBA.

The bad: Consistency concerns

Now, there are a ton of questions regarding Dort’s game as it stands. Like any draft prospect, Dort is unpolished. He is not a consistent player by any means. If we split his season into quarters, his numbers are staggering.

These quarters are not divided equally but are similar in length. In the first quarter of the season, Dort scored 22 points per game on .440/.340/.627 splits. This section was made up of eight games. The next quarter (10 games) was much different. Dort dropped to just 11.9 points on .342/.268/.640 splits. He improved over the next nine games. He posted 16.4 points on .429/.286/.815 clips.

Then he ended the season on a low note. His final seven games saw his numbers drop to 14.9 points on .400/.333/.750 splits. The only consistency here is that Dort improved his free throw shooting throughout the season. A lot of Dort’s best performances were immediately followed by poor outings.

I think the inconsistent shooting numbers can be attributed to Dort’s jumper. He is all arms. Dort has a ton of athleticism but hardly jumps into his shot. That allows defenders to contest the shot with ease and tires out his arms.

The more he shoots, the more his arms become weak. Learning to jump into the shot should save his shot. But that’s not the only issue with the shot. Dort tends to launch the ball with a high arc. It almost looks out of control at times.  Watch the small hop and large arc on this shot.

On the defensive end, Dort occasionally struggles with the pick and roll. He fails to communicate and switch on the perimeter. As he sags off the ball-handler, shots become wide open. His man can also drive right by him and get to the hoop.

Final verdict

Luguentz Dort is projected between picks 20 and 35 as of right now. He would be a bit of a reach for the Pacers at pick 18.

Although a trade back could be in play, I don’t think the Pacers will make a move with him in mind. The only way I see him landing with the Pacers is if they decide to play Victor Oladipo as a true point guard. That move would open a spot on the bench as an extra role player in the backcourt as one of the current back-ups steps into the starting spot.

Next: The possibility of the return of George Hill

I liked what I saw for Dort’s game. I think he has the tools to succeed in the NBA, but his value simply does not match up with what the Pacers need.