Making it in the NBA is tough enough as it is, but it's especially difficult for undrafted players. While first-round picks such as Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith will earn a fixed salary of millions of dollars during their first two to five years in the league, second-round selections and undrafted players don't have the same sorts of luxuries. They often have only partially guaranteed contracts and bounce around the league, trying to find a team that will give them a chance.
That makes it all the sweeter to see their hard work come to fruition. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort went undrafted three years ago, but he just realized a huge NBA milestone with his first big contract.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Thunder re-signed Dort to a five-year, $87.5 million deal. In his first three seasons in the league, Dort made about $4 million combined. Now, he'll be set for life — and he's still only 23 years old.
After one season at Arizona State, the Canadian guard declared for the 2019 NBA Draft but didn't get selected. He signed a two-way contract with the Thunder and the Oklahoma City Blue of the NBA G League, working his way up from the developmental league to the Thunder's roster. By the playoffs of his rookie year, he was defending James Harden of the Houston Rockets and drawing praise for keeping the former MVP in check.
And he's only grown from there. Dort has been an essential part of the Thunder's roster during the team's rebuilding process. Last year, he averaged a career-high 17.2 points and 4.2 rebounds over 51 games before missing the rest of the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
After successful surgery, he'll get back on the court with some extra bulk to his wallet. It's a great story — Dort has gone from undrafted and relatively unknown to making an average of $17.5 million per season for the next five years. If the Thunder continue to improve, he just may add some postseason success to his resume, too.