Many have called him the “International Man of Mystery”, and through the first 40 games or so, that description fit him perfectly. But it finally appears Dante Exum will be unleashed by the Utah Jazz. We will finally get to see Exum, who hails from Australia, receive extended minutes and see what he is truly capable of.
Quin Snyder is apparently taking off the training wheels with Exum, as he has inserted him into the starting five for the last five games. With incumbent starting point guard Trey Burke struggling with his shot and averaging just 4.8 assists per game, Snyder wanted to shake things up and see if Exum can infuse some new energy into the club.
Exum, who was the fifth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, is just 19-years old and is a prospect just oozing with potential. Some consider him extremely raw, yet supremely talented, and it may be only a matter of time before he explodes on the scene.
For sure, there will be a learning curve with Exum. You shouldn’t expect greatness off the bat, especially at the tender age of 19.
That was never more apparent than in Exum’s last two games against the Clippers and the Celtics. In those two games Exum received a combined 51 minutes but scored just three points on 1-8 shooting from the field, while also just dishing out three assists to two turnovers.
Prior to those two games, though, Exum did show some promise. In his previous two games against Brooklyn and Milwaukee, he combined to play 64 minutes and score 28 points on 10-29 shooting, while dishing out nine assists to five turnovers.
For the season, Exum is averaging only 5.0 points, 2.2 assists, and 1.4 rebounds per game while shooting just .383 percent from the field. Clearly, he is an unrefined product and given how he has looked in his first few starts, this looks like it will be a long process.
Upside is the word when you’re talking about Exum, though. Exum combines great athleticism with fundamentally-sound basketball acumen. If you see clips of him on YouTube, you’ll certainly get that impression of him.
He has an unbelievable skill set, and with his 6’6”, 190-pound frame, he can see over many defenders. Exum is both quick and strong. Once he puts on even more weight, he will be a nightmare match-up problem at point guard.
It all gets back to patience, as Exum will have his struggles. The Jazz are prepared to go through that learning process with him.
From Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune:
“He’s going to have his struggles,” said Snyder. “We’re asking him to play at a pretty high level for a guy that’s 19. He has to feel that level before he can do it all the time.”
That, admittedly is a tall order, but Exum says he’s up for the challenge.
“This is a good opportunity for me, and a good learning opportunity as well,” he said. “I know that I have to keep being more aggressive on the offensive end. This next week is definitely going to be a good test.”
Jazz fans and NBA fans alike really want to see Exum realize his full potential. If Exum was a stock on the stock exchange, he’s is someone you want to invest in. He will be good, it’s just going to take some time and the payoff down the line could be huge.
The growing pains will be evident this year, but nonetheless, Exum’s potential and progress is something to monitor in the second half of the year as the Jazz look to see what they got in this “International Man of Mystery.”