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Notes from a Summer League Monday: Sign me up for the Dante Exum fan club

Jul 15, 2014, 12:47 AM EDT

Dante Exum AP

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas Summer League is a three ring NBA circus. There are two simultaneous games and the sideshow of agents, coaches and players just hanging out and talking. There’s a lot to take in, a lot of stories to tell.

Here is some stuff from my notebook for Monday.

• You can sign me up for the Dante Exum fan club. The guy has a real star quality about him and his game.

Monday was the first time I have seen him play in person and there is a lot to like. He has this loping dribble that he can turn into quick step to drive or to set up a pass (call it a wicked hesitation dribble). Exum is tall for a guard and that combined with a fantastic floor vision leads to some very smart passes other guards do not see (and also a few rookie passes he will learn he can’t make against this level of athlete). He is very quick on the dribble and can get into the paint. He struggled a little with his shot Monday night but his form looks good. Utah may really have something with Trey Burke at the point and Exum at the two (or Exum may take his point job).

• There were a lot of Jazz fans who made the trip to Sin City, and they love them some Rodney Hood. With reason. He showed off a sweet stroke and hit 7-of-10 from three on his way to 29 points against the Bucks. It was a shooting exhibition. He’s not going to create his own shot but he did a nice job losing his defender then getting off his shot in a small window. On a team with Burke and Exum a guy who can knock it down like Hood has real value.

Andrew Wiggins is a physical freak of nature. I know, you knew that, but I don’t think it can be emphasized enough. We already showed you his highlight dunk, now check out his block of 7’0” Nerlens Noel.

It wasn’t just those two highlight plays, either. He ran down a Sixers fast break and knocked the ball out of bounds from a Philly guard before he could get a shot off. He had a couple steals because nobody thought he could get into that passing lane. He’s got a lot to learn about how to harness and use that athleticism, his dribbling and shot need polish (he was 2-of-6 on shots outside the paint), but there is a lot to like.

Let me put it this way, even seasoned NBA observers are left shaking their heads on some of his plays.

Russ Smith looked good for the Pelicans, he could make a nice change-of-pace guard off the bench (a lot of teams carry three point guards, he could be in that mix). New Orleans might be a place he could latch on.

• I said this yesterday but it bears repeating: Sim Bhullar is a massive human being. Seriously. Massive.

• A nice game from Nik Stauskas Monday — 6-of-8 from the field for 15 points. If he shoots like that for the Kings he gets run.

Mathew Dellavedova has been maybe the best point guard in Las Vegas. Not in terms of pure talent, but because he can run an offense and always seems to make the right play. Summer League is where players come to get noticed and often point guards don’t want to just organize and run the offense. Dellavedova is doing just that. He got into the paint and can finish (3-of-4 in the paint in this game) also got a nice outside catch-and-shoot motion, which could come in handy with that LeBron James guy on the Cavs now.

• One of the most fun matchups Monday: Cleveland’s Will Cherry vs. Philadelphia’s Casper Ware. To lightning quick, dogged point guards who just went back and forth. Both got overlooked because they are under six foot but both are the kinds of guys who could latch on with an NBA team as a third point guard, said Sixers Summer League coach Chad Iske.

“He doesn’t see them as physical limitations,” Iske said of Ware’s height, which is generously listed officially at 5’10”. “He doesn’t think there is anything he can’t do. And he is so strong.”

Jabari Parker is skilled but he isn’t used to dealing with the length of someone like 7’1” Jazz center Rudy Gobert inside and got blocked a couple of times because of it. Parker has some nice moves but he doesn’t come off as NBA ready yet as had been projected.

• Gobert had a really nice game with five blocks and 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting.

• You can hear the Utah coaches yelling at Gobert to work on the “rule of verticality” every time he is defending in the post — “go straight up Rudy” ring out through the arena.

  1. campcouch - Jul 15, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    Don’t sleep on Dellavedova. He got some PT last year with Irving hurt and he’s a solid PG.

    • chicagosports2014 - Jul 15, 2014 at 8:13 AM

      DA BULLS

  2. antistratfordian - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:15 AM

    Wiggins is looking like the Wiggins people thought he was going to be when he was in high school. The Cavs got this guy AND LeBron James AND Kyrie Irving.

    And, I guess, Anthony Bennett, if you’re feeling feisty.

    I don’t know what’s more ridiculous… the 2010 Heat or the 2015 Cavs and the fact that they have four #1 picks all under 30.

    • campcouch - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:30 AM

      Since Irving won’t be the focus of the offense or defenses and he has some players who won’t freelance like Waiters, I wonder what kind of numbers he can put up with James and even with a raw Wiggins.

    • bougin89 - Jul 15, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      With James and Wiggins defending the perimeter they have just scary defensive potential. Even with Irving there James and Wiggins will give opposing offenses big time fits.

      You’re correct in that Wiggins is showing why he deserved to be the #1 pick. Rare to see a rookie look so good on both sides of the ball. It’s still summer league but all indications are Wiggins is the real deal.

  3. spyder9669 - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:32 AM

    I love when I read comments about how great guys look in summer league action. As if its any real gauge of how they will do in the NBA. 99% of these guys will not play a minute during the regular season. They are only there so the guys who got drafted have something to play against.

    • campcouch - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:43 AM

      A good portion of these guys were on rosters last year and quite a few started. Summer League isn’t just a rookie showcase, so the competition, as disorganized as it may be is legit. The superstars aren’t there but any guy playing in anything NBA sanctioned has talent.

      • shanelsweet - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        “quite a few started”? I’m calling BS on that one. They’re are not a lot of NBA starters playing Summer league, and I agree with spyder. The stuff you’re seeing work on offense and defense in summer league for Noel, Wiggins and the rest isn’t going to work in the regular season games.

  4. stadix093 - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:58 AM

    Since my Lakers are going to once again suck, at least I can look forward to some exciting stuff happening with that Cavs team. The NBA is setting up nicely for a while.

    • campcouch - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:20 AM

      I don’t know, Randle looks nice and if Nash and Kobe are recovered or near recovered,then running with Lin, Swaggy, Marshall and Julius should be interesting. Playing without Kobe, Nash and even Gasol for some time, they were pretty competitive and managed not to be the worst in the West.

      • apkyletexas - Jul 15, 2014 at 3:07 AM

        Might want to ask the Clippers how competitive the Lakers were.

  5. money2long - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:04 AM

    I wish the lakers had exum

    • 00maltliquor - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:19 AM

      Me too brother, me too. *sigh*

      LETS GO RANDLE!!
      YOU CAN DOIT! (In Rob Schneider in Waterboy voice)

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