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Dante Exum impresses in flashes during Summer League debut with Jazz

Jul 13, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

Sean Kilpatrick, Dante Exum Sean Kilpatrick, Dante Exum

LAS VEGAS — Dante Exum was selected by the Jazz with the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft, and as Utah got its first look at the team’s new 19-year old prospect in Summer League action on Saturday, he showed every bit of having that level of promise.

Many weren’t completely familiar with Exum’s game, since he went to school in Australia and didn’t play college ball in the states. While his numbers were modest — 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, to go along with three rebounds and three assists in almost 30 minutes — he showcased a skill set that is undoubtedly NBA-ready, and once it develops more fully, should make him into one of the more interesting players of this draft class for seasons to come.

What immediately stood out was Exum’s quickness. His first step in taking a defender off the dribble is devastating, as he demonstrated on a drive from the three-point arc where he exploded past his man to get to the rim and finish a contested reverse lay-in. On another play, after turning the ball over on an ambitious pass along the baseline, he was lightning-fast in closing in to steal it right back, and getting to the rim for a two-handed slam.

In addition to the overall level of athleticism, Exum showed off an above-average vision of the floor. He was constantly making excellent passes to find his teammates in a position to score, and had several nice looks that may not have resulted in buckets, but ended up getting guys free throw attempts once the defense had no choice but to foul to prevent an easy two points.

“Looking at our team, we have a lot of bigs that can get to the basket, and it just opened up when I was driving with [the defense] helping off so much,” Exum said. “That’s what I do as a point guard, try to find players when I beat someone off the dribble. That’s just what happens.”

Exum cited the physicality of the game more than the speed of it as what surprised him the most in his first official taste of NBA competition.

“I knew it was going to be physical, but you never know until you actually get out there,” he said. “Just driving into the lane and getting those bumps you kind of feel it, and it’s different coming off screens, as well. It’s just the physicality.”

There were flaws to find for those looking hard enough, which included Exum consistently pushing the ball up the court on the wings instead of getting the ball to the middle of the floor to have more options, and simply standing around in the corner on the offensive end when he didn’t have the ball in his hands. His body language wasn’t great either, mostly on possessions where he was open and didn’t get the ball swung his way for a shot from three-point distance.

But all of that is minor, and correctable over time. What was much more noteworthy was the excitement conveyed by Exum’s overall performance.

  1. buffalowned - Jul 13, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    He will be fun to watch but as far as defense, he doesn’t play any.

    • bigmeechy74 - Jul 13, 2014 at 6:13 PM

      He is 19. He isn’t going to be bruce bowen out of the gate

      • buffalowned - Jul 13, 2014 at 6:37 PM

        I didn’t say he can’t play d, I said he doesn’t. He puts forth no effort on that end. Jogs back, doesn’t put pressure on the ball, gives up after his man gets by him, doesn’t rotate, doesn’t try to get rebounds, it’s like he’s just waiting for his team to get the ball back. It took me like 3 possessions to figure this out. Watch for yourself if you don’t believe me.

      • money2long - Jul 13, 2014 at 7:32 PM

        something tells me you’re not relying on your own observation but some weird scout website. at least give it some credit

      • buffalowned - Jul 13, 2014 at 7:38 PM

        No I actually watched him play last night in the summer league. Seeing as he hasn’t played in the U.S. before that, that’s the only time I’ve seen him play so that’s what i’m basing it off of. When a guy looks like James Harden on defense, it’s not that hard to pick up on.

  2. officialgame - Jul 13, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    I like Exum a lot. He has amazing quickness for his size and once he develops a shot he will be really hard to stop. Orlando is going to regret not taking him with the 4th pick.

  3. themagicfanguy - Jul 13, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    Orlando will regret nothing. It was either Exum/Payne or Gordon/Payton for Orlando, which would you pick? That’s what I thought. Payton is just as good of a PG prospect anyway, Gordon is a project but he has huge upside.

    • gogatorsjohn - Jul 13, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      lol Not saying Exum won’t be a good player but as a Magic fan I am ecstatic about the future of Gordon and Payton at PG. I could envision Payton being a Gary Payton/Rondo type of PG and Gordon has huge upside (Blake Griffin). Funny, I actually see similarities of the Supersonics with Payton/Kemp and Payton/Gordon. And throw in Oladipo (young D. Wade) the future is bright (check D. Wade’s rookie year stats vs. Oladipo practically the same). Magic are around $20M under the cap this year and when 2016 comes around and if KD hasn’t won a title yet, Magic are going to be very attractive for him or whoever else who wants to win a ring in a tax-free state.

      • handsomerob86 - Jul 13, 2014 at 7:13 PM

        I hope this proves true, but I don’t think most major stars will consider us especially KD. If he leaves the only place I could see him going is Washington.

      • money2long - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:31 AM

        Lol. Let’s wait for these guys to prove themselves before saying kd may be attracted to Orlando in 2016

  4. therealhtj - Jul 13, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    And he’s only 7 years away from forcing his way out of Utah!

  5. captainwisdom8888 - Jul 13, 2014 at 7:26 PM

    Exum is extremely quick, and he can get up too. I’m not sure he fully matches the freakish athleticism of a Russell Westbrook, but that’s the player who I think he resembles the most thus far. Both guys are super athletic and both came into the league with a jumpshot that has to be sharpened a bit. The similarities are definitely there, but Westbrook is probably better on the defensive end.

  6. sawick48 - Jul 13, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    the more i read/see about this kid the more i cant believe he fell to #5. Hinkie’s gonna regret that one when hes unemployed in 2016

  7. khmerson562 - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    Exum will be a lakers when his contract is up.

  8. antistratfordian - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:02 AM

    Exumlent. No?

    He pa.ssed the exum? Nah.

    He looks like he’s going to be a good player though. The Jazz are lucky to have him.

  9. innovativethinking87 - Jul 14, 2014 at 2:34 AM

    Exum reminds me of Batum but with better handles

  10. smiddlefish - Jul 14, 2014 at 4:04 AM

    ive heard people say hes a certain bust? hes lightning quick and hes 19 but very raw. i can see him giving teams problems in a few yeards

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