Dante Exum’s place within the Utah Jazz team has been debated for many years now.
This season he’s been predicted to play a more significant role within the team and that’s certainly what he wants too, stating that he feels ready and confident to occupy a bigger part in creating the team’s success.
But with years of minimal playing time and new additions to the team, what can we really expect?
Australian Dante Exum was considered a potential NBA rising star when he was drafted prior to graduating from high school in 2013. In fact, he was the no. 5 overall pick for the 2014 draft.
During his first season, Exum showed signs of brilliance. He was a little “raw”, as everyone had predicted, but he was a strong player, particularly on the defensive end. However, since those early days of his career, he has failed to live up to the initial hype, in part due to a crushing injury.
Following a promising rookie season, Exum tore his ACL during the offseason. This led to him being side lined for the whole of the 2015/2016 season as he underwent rehabilitation. Fully recovered for the 2016/2017 season, he still wasn’t allowed consistent playing time by coach Quin Snyder. Shelvin Mack and Raul Neto sometimes found themselves ahead of Exum on the depth chart and the player was often benched for, seemingly, minor mistakes on the court when he did take the court.
Exum’s play was unreliable. He put up 15 points in 32 minutes during the final game of the postseason but successes have been countered by poor finishes and a lack of ability when shooting from deep.
Moments of Greatness
Despite a shaky 2015/2016, Exum has had a strong off-season. Across three NBA Summer League games. Exum demonstrated better than 52% shooting. He dropped 6.3 assists a game and averaged 20 points per game.
He showed great playmaking and did enough to suggest that he could really make his mark in this, the final year of his rookie contract.
With these successes in mind, it’s certainly possible that he could become a powerhouse within the Jazz team this season. But his role won’t just depend upon an improvement in his play. The place new additions to the team are going to occupy is still up in the air.
Gordon Haywood’s future with the Jazz was hotly debated for some time before he finally left to join Boston Celtics over the summer. His presence in the team certainly helped to sideline Exum and there was initial hope that his departure might mean getting the young player to step up into a more important role.
However, since Haywood left, the Jazz have recruited both elite defender Ricky Rubio and rookie Donovan Mitchell. They will inevitably be taking valuable court time away from Exum over the new season. How Exum fits into this new Jazz line up will only become apparent as the season unfolds. It certainly doesn’t look like he’s been given a starring role but only time will tell.
The Jazz will start the 2017/18 season hosting the Nuggets at home on Wednesday
October 18. We’ll also get a sneak peek at the new team in a special exhibition match against NBL’s Sydney Kings, which is taking place in Salt Lake City at the start of October.
Let’s hope Exum gets the opportunity to show off his talent and that his abilities still live up to the expectations we had back in 2014.