“With the number five pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz select….. Dante Exum.” Wait wait, Dante who? Unless Jazz fans were paying close attention to the draft last year, they had no idea who this young Australian is. They most certainly do now, however.
At 6’6”, this nineteen, yes NINETEEN year old Melbourne native has already had a lot to live up to in life after being the fifth picked player in the draft. While it took a few weeks to get adjusted, Dante not only has upped his minutes of game time, the rookie was even in the starting lineup against the Pacers on January 5.
A large part of Exum’s increased playing time at the end of December and into January can be credited to injuries and illnesses. Alec Burkes will be out the remainder of the season and thanks to Exum’s versatility to play the one or two guard position, that means more experience time on the floor.
Exum’s numbers aren’t necessarily jumping off the page, but there is progression.
Jazz fan and Snow student Colton Chappell commented on how he thinks Exum’s progression is compared to when Gordon Hayward was a rookie. “I feel that Dante Exum has definitely begun his progression a lot faster than Hayward did at the beginning of his career. They both were timid at the start, but Exum has started evolving faster. His shooting percentages aren’t bad and you can definitely tell that he’ll become a solid role player in the future.”
In the month of January, Exum has been averaging 24.8 minutes, 7.8 points, and 1.8 assists. But it is his presence on the court that brings value to his game. His size, quickness, and overall basketball IQ are what got him drafted so high.
He has played on the big stage before when he played for Australia in the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championship and the 2013 FIBA Under-19 World Championship. They don’t compare to the NBA level of play of course, but again, he is adjusting nicely.
Head coach Quin Snyder is expecting a lot out of the rookie. According to Deseret News he said, “I’ve been on him hard. It’s not OK for him to be passive, just to be out there and be in a backup role as a 19-year-old.”
Certainly, Dante Exum has a bright future. And he seems determined to make the most of the opportunities that are given to him.