On Luguentz Dort as Arizona State’s High Usage Defensive Catalyst…

Posted by Adam Butler on December 7th, 2018

In learning about or defining Arizona State freshman Luguentz Dort, it is easy to come up with some comps. It’s a swift means to recognizing what kind of a talent we’re witnessing and – as it pertains to the brevity of a college career and the especially brief career of a possible one-and-done career – it’s a convenient means to evaluation. But for today’s purposes, let’s appreciate the individuality of Dort. It’s the least we can do for a young man of such unique skill and name.

Luguentz Dort Has Been Exceptional This Season (USA Today Images)

Dort is Arizona State’s starting shooting guard with the build of a safety. He’s listed at 6’4”, 215 pounds, and seemingly plays well above those measures. Consider that Dort has the ninth-highest usage rate among freshmen (68th nationally) and only trails Duke star RJ Barrett in freshman usage in the power conferences. For better or worse, Dort is exerting himself on the college game and it doesn’t appear as if head coach Bobby Hurley is soon to slow his powerful pup. Which, on the surface, might be something to consider. Dort is consuming all of these possessions (of note: the Sun Devils are still undefeated) with an offensive efficiency in the range of average (103.0). Why, Coach Hurley, would you want an inefficient player taking that many shots? His turnover rate is approaching 20 percent and his effective field goal percentage is just 49 percent.

Perhaps it has nothing to do with those inefficiencies? Arizona State is giving the lion’s share of its two-guard minutes to this Canadian bulldog because its defense is already five points per 100 better than it was a season ago. A jump into KenPom’s top 60 as of this writing and the highest rating of Hurley’s coaching career. Hurley has preached defense all the offseason long and – it would appear – his lauded freshman is bringing the grit; along with a significant sophomore jump from Kimani Lawrence and San Diego State transfer Zylan Cheatham (shout-out to Romello White, of course). This group won’t soon be confused for Virginia or the 2015 Kentucky Wildcats (84.4 defensive rating!) but the tone is seemingly set and it (perhaps surprisingly) is being established by this dynamic freshman.

Back to his offense, however, as it would appear there is room for improved efficiencies. Dort is taking just six percent of his shots in the dreaded mid-range. That means he’s getting everything headed to the basket or beyond the arc, the two areas celebrated for their efficiency. So modern. The issue, it would seem, is that Dort is struggling to finish in traffic (46% FG% at the rim), isn’t making threes at an elite – or particularly threatening – rate (33%), and keeps turning the ball over (as previously noted). Further, while he’s doing an excellent job of getting himself to the line, he isn’t necessarily capitalizing. Dort is shooting just 63 percent there. As with many young players, there are questions about his shooting ability and the numbers reflect as much, but as long as Dort is an integral part of a revamped Sun Devils’ defense, it seems he’ll continue to get an opportunity to get downhill or shoot threes.

Adam Butler (47 Posts)

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