The Oklahoma City Thunder announced on Tuesday evening that forward Luguentz Dort will be out for the remainder of the season after having surgery to repair a labrum tear in his left shoulder. Dort, who had been sidelined since Feb. 12 with a shoulder injury, underwent surgery in Los Angeles with Thunder medical personnel present. Though he'll be out for the remainder of the season, he's expected to make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2022-23 season.
Dort's injury isn't ideal given the stellar season he was having. The third-year forward out of Arizona State was averaging career-highs in points (17.2), rebounds (4.2), and shooting over 40 percent from the field, the best of his career so far. He began to show marked improvement as an offensive weapon to go along with his staunch defense and proved to be a reliable second option alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
However, with the Thunder currently posting a 20-44 record, and primed for a top spot in the 2022 NBA Draft, shutting Dort down for the remainder of the season will help improve Oklahoma City's draft odds. The Thunder have the fourth-worst record in the league right now, and even with flattened lottery odds, still have a 12.5 percent chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick, per Tankathon.
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In related Thunder injury news, the team also announced that guard Ty Jerome will be out for the rest of the season after undergoing a procedure on Tuesday to address a sports hernia. Jerome is expected to be out for eight weeks and will be able to resume basketball activities after that time. Veteran big man Mike Muscala is also expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the 2021-22 season after having an arthroscopic procedure and repairing a lateral ligament on his right ankle. Muscala will be available to return ahead of the start of next season.
These lengthy injuries are in addition to the long injury report the Thunder already have. Rookie standout Josh Giddey has missed the last five games with a hip injury, and is expected to be sidelined a total of two weeks as OKC coach Mark Daigneault said "We'll know a lot more in a couple of weeks to see how he responds to the treatment he is getting right now." Sharpshooting forward Kenrich Williams has also been sidelined since Feb. 14 with a knee injury, and there's no timetable for his return.
From the looks of it, it appears as though the Thunder are waving the white flag on the season as they look to get their team as healthy as possible while prepping for the upcoming draft where they will have four draft picks, three of which are in the first round.