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The international point guard of mystery is headed to Utah

Jun 27, 2014, 12:46 AM EDT

2014 NBA Draft Getty Images

NEW YORK –  The first step of Dante Exum‘s NBA career was taken when he was selected by the Utah Jazz with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.  If you’re uncertain of Exum’s ability to play in the NBA, you might as well hop on board with quite a few other people who are unsure of how the skill set of the 18-year old point guard will transfer over from Australia to The Association.

Exum is a silky smooth 6’6” point guard with Youtube compilations that will make you drool. He can make quick sharp decisions off of the dribble. His first step is incredibly fast and he basically glides to the rim as if he were on skates. When Exum gets into the lane, he has the ability to finish thanks to his long frame.

The beauty of Exum’s game isn’t just his ability on the offensive end, it’s also in his defensive instincts and fundamentals. His 6’ 9.5” wingspan allows him to guard players on the wing who are much bigger and his absurdly good footwork allows him to stay in front of the guy with the ball.

I told you it was easy to fall in love with him, but the four teams in front of the Jazz clearly didn’t love him enough to take a chance on someone who has a giant unknown sticker with the Australian flag stamped on it. There are legitimate questions about the lack of talent he played against over in Australia and his inconsistent play in the U19 FIBA World Championships, which definitely played into the reason why he wasn’t higher up on team’s draft boards.

Exum worked out for only three teams during the scouting process, the Sixers, Bucks and Magic. Notice the team who selected him isn’t in that group, so why didn’t he work out for the Jazz?

“Looking at the Draft and where I was placed, me and my agent thought that I wouldn’t get down to 5,” Exum said after being selected by Utah. ”But anything happens in the Draft, and you see I’m lucky enough that Utah believed in me and pick me up at 5.”

The Jazz are just one year removed from selecting Trey Burke, a point guard, with the ninth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Burke had a decent rookie campaign (13 points per game and almost six assists), but he didn’t set the world on fire by any means, which is the theme of last year’s draft.

This won’t be the first time Exum has been placed on a team with other quality point guards.

“The Australian team, Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova, and I’m in that system, and those are both point guards. So you work around it,” he said.

Obviously the Australian team and an NBA franchise are extremely different, but the idea of a two point guard backcourt isn’t something that is some far-fetched idea. The role of the shooting guard is morphing. The two-guard is no longer just someone who needs to be able to put the ball in the basket; they have to be able to handle the ball. The key is being able to balance how much the two guys will handle the ball when they’re on the floor together, which is something Exum and Burke have already talked about.

“I already spoke to him, and he’s excited to have me, and I’m excited to be there,” Exum said. “I know we’re both going to give up something a little so everyone’s happy. “

The one thing the Jazz can’t do is put up another wasteland year offensively. Only the Bulls were worse than the Jazz in points per game last season, which is something that Exum believes could change under new head coach Quin Snyder.

“They got a new coach now, so I’m sure it’s going to be a different system. I like to play up and down and kind of find my guys in transition,” he said. “I think the coach being a point guard, he’s going to know how to utilize me and Trey.”

If Snyder doesn’t, it could be another long season for the Jazz.

Twitter: @Scottdargis

  1. yesser12 - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:22 AM

    He had quiet a few commercials on. When his contract is up I think he will want to go to a big market for his big personality.

  2. 00maltliquor - Jun 27, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    The Jazz roster looks nice and complete now. Hopefully they can resign Hayward at a reasonable price and get it crackin’.

  3. kcroyal - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:11 AM

    People pay you to write words for other to read? Amazing.

    • adzs93 - Jun 27, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      *Others; oh the irony

  4. kcroyal - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:12 AM

    People pay you to write words for others to read? Amazing.

    • 5xchamp24 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      Lol… You definitely had to correct your comment after criticizing someone else for what they wrote.

  5. campcouch - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:49 AM

    Utah needs to open up the checkbook on Heyward now. They let Jefferson,Milsap and D-Will go for nothing and Derrick Favors and need to start locking up players. They have a core of talent that should compete for the 6-8 seed and need GH to do it.

  6. qdog112 - Jun 27, 2014 at 7:14 AM

    For a 1st rd pick, he is extremely raw and his level of competition is suspect. He may have tons of upside, but he has a terrible shot and most importantly, he has absolutely no let hand at all. Just watch his highlights. He not just bad with his left, he avoids touching the ball with it. It’s very noticeable.

    • dacapt704 - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:26 AM

      Picks like this, Kanter, Favors, etc are why Utah is a bottom feeder now..they have no direction and don’t know what their team should be built around. You let D-Will walk, Jefferson walk (thanks from the Bobcats/Hornets), Millsap, etc..now you still have underachieving lottery picks and throw in a guy who looked good playing against other 19 year olds…ok…see you in the lottery next year too LOL! Cant keep reaching for potential with top 5 picks…

      • azarkhan - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        Deron Williams forced his way out by behaving like an a-hole towards Coach Sloan.

  7. JB (the original) - Jun 27, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    Tsuyoshi Nishioka of the NBA?

  8. mvp43 - Jun 27, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    5 is way too high for this guy. Utah needs scorers, not potential right now. Julius Randle should’ve been the pick here.

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