On Sunday, the Oklahoma City Thunder make their annual trip to Scotiabank Arena to take on the Toronto Raptors with two Canadians on their roster.
PREVIEW: OKC Thunder make lone visit to Toronto to face Raptors
In addition to leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Hamilton, ON), Oklahoma City has enjoyed the recent play of rookie Luguentz Dort (Montreal, QC), who has stepped up in a major way whenever his number is called.
After going undrafted in 2019, Dort signed a two-way contract with the Thunder ahead of the Las Vegas Summer League, meaning he'd split time with the Oklahoma City Thunder and their G League affiliate, the OKC Blue.
#2WayPlayer @Luguentz Dort is appointment television 📺- NBA G League (@nbagleague) November 24, 2019
32 PTS | 4 REB | 3 AST | 10-14 FGM on Saturday@SunDevilHoops ↗️ @okcblue ↔️ @okcthunder pic.twitter.com/2o6R1yroIu
Despite a circumstance that limits his time spent with the Thunder, the 6-foot-3 guard has made the most of the opportunities presented to him to carve a role after making his NBA debut on Dec. 6.
Prior to the Thunder's overtime win over the Hornets on Friday, Dort told NBA.com that his big moments with the Thunder have "been pretty good. It's good that the coaches trust in me."
He added that "a couple of games, I had to guard some tough players and it really just gave me a lot of confidence to be on the court and play with these guys that have been here for more than one year."
After missing time with the Thunder to participate in the G League showcase, Dort returned to action in Charlotte, where he finished with seven points, two rebounds and an assist in just under 17 minutes on the floor.
Even more impressive than his numbers is that when OKC needed a stop, Dort - a two-way player in his seventh career NBA game - was on the court alongside some of the team's established vets during some of the game's most crucial moments.
Billy Donovan's trust in the 20-year-old in late-game situations is a byproduct of how advanced the rookie is on the defensive end, a fact echoed by Gilgeous-Alexander, who told reporters after the game that "he's been phenomenal defensively, but we knew that before he came up, that he's one of the better defenders around."
With Dennis Schröder inactive Sunday, Dort will likely have an increased role against the Raptors. And when he takes the floor for in Canada for the first time as a pro, he'll have plenty of support as Dort told NBA.com that he'll have around 20 family members and friends in attendance.
With Dort, Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Boucher and Oshae Brissett all in action, there will be no shortage of CanCon on the Scotiabank Arena floor Sunday evening.
Additionally, Dort and Boucher are two of three NBA players from Montreal, the other being Khem Birch. The rise of Canadian talent - and Boucher's recent play - is something Dort told NBA.com he envisions having a lasting impact on their hometown: "Being from Montreal, (me), Chris (Boucher) and Khem (Birch)… Chris is out there balling right now and it's just really big for all the kids and all the people that look up to us.
"Just being from Montreal and being at this level right now. I hope all of us keep playing well and the kids just look up to us like that."
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