The Utah Jazz today released a statement stating that Dante Exum will be unavailable for off season commitments with the Australian National Team, which led some to despair about Australia’s apparently dwindling medal prospects.
However Dante never figured to be a big piece of this years campaign in the first place.
Coming off of an ACL injury which saw him sidelined for the 2015/16 NBA season, the Rio Olympics were to be Dante’s first full games back on court. After such a long recovery time, and having only started full contact training in late May, it was unlikely Exum would have played himself into the Boomers’ main rotation.
For all of his NBA credentials, Dante would have been the 12th man on the roster but with one of the team’s more impressive resumes.
The Boomers would be saddened that Dante can’t play this year, but they’d hardly be rethinking their medal goals as a result of this.
In fact, the one who stood to gain the most from the experience was Dante himself. It would have been a great opportunity for him to ease back into elite level basketball with spot minutes and low expectations of his performance.
After Dante’s sheepish performance at the 2014 World Cup, his modest NBA rookie season, and a devastating injury, it is perplexing that Dante’s announcement today would be treated as such blow to the Boomers program.
It is easy to look at Dante’s NBA status (which stands just as NBA player right now) and compare it to Chris Goulding or Kevin Lisch and assume he’d have a bigger impact. However that would be completely discounting their many years of experience.
Experience counts for a lot in international basketball. It is a high stakes, short tournament which doesn’t grant the luxury of developing potential the way an 82-game NBA season does.
And make no mistake, Dante Exum’s potential is massive. Point Guards with his mix of length, speed and athleticism are rare. His ability to become a serviceable outside threat after many projected that part of his game as a weakness also speaks volumes of his work ethic. But if we are talking about getting a medal in 2016 – and we still should be – Dante Exum coming off an injury is not a big loss.
Dante is a proud Australian through and through. He will be one of the cornerstones of the Boomers program for a decade or more. One day, he might even have a medal draped around his neck. But for now, let him concentrate on his career with the Utah Jazz and lose none of your confidence that Australia can medal in 2016.