The Utah Jazz have been in a rebuilding process for the past season or two. In the past years, Utah had always been competitive, but couldn’t seem to make the leap to a championship contender, losing their star players such as Deron Williams, Al Jefferson, and Paul Millsap. Jazz fans have been singing the blues now more than ever. The Jazz front office has been making questionable decisions, swinging for the fence if you will, but where is this team going?
Dante Exum was an interesting sub plot of the most recent NBA Draft. The Australian born has shown great potential and raw abilities, but has yet to prove himself to the world that he is ready. I don’t think he could have landed on a worse team for his skill set. Exum is a developmental project. He is not yet the player he will become nor is he a sure thing, but Utah is swinging for the fences in hope of a star. Physically, he might already be one. Measuring in at 6’6 with a wingspan of 6’9, he has a lot of size for the point guard position. A high offensive ball IQ and a knack for getting his teammates open shots already show a mature offensive ability. He rebounds well on both ends for a guard, runs the floor well, can score or pass from the post, and finishes well around the rim. Unfortunately, not all of those skills are at an elite NBA level yet and Exum certainly has things to work on. For starters, he is a very inconsistent shooter. He thrives on catch and shoot opportunities, but simply cannot pull up and shoot with any confidence or stability. He is also only weighing in at around 190lbs which can be a problem for Exum if a physical defender like a Tony Allen comes to town. Strength wise he can be bullied on the perimeter if you get physical with him. Dante Exum is a hit or miss prospect, and I often wonder if the Jazz will go out swinging.
Let’s talk less about Dante Exum the player and more about Dante Exum the Point Guard. I’ll explain. Just last year, Utah selected Michigan prodigy Trey Burke with the 9th overall selection in the 2014 draft. Now, Dante Exum’s game is very ball dominant. He likes to Iso, drive and kick, post up. He’s a point guard. Exum will struggle in off ball situations as he excels with the ball in his hands. Trey Burke is a promising prospect. He had an average rookie season, averaging 12.8ppg along with 5.7apg and a field goal percentage of 38%. Promising numbers, but still a lot of room for improvement. Now The Utah Jazz have two Point Guard prospects, but why? I was dumbfounded by the selection. Short-term, Burke and Exum can play together, but long-term you must make a decision. With a frontcourt so questionable, Julius Randle would have been a far better selection. Favors and Kanter have yet to prove themselves, but an athletic prospect like Randle would make an instant impact and an even scarier pick and roll.
The Jazz have a lot of question marks surrounding their franchise. Can new head coach Quin Snyder figure out where this team is headed? What are we going to do with Dante Exum? Is Enes Kanter on the trading block? The Jazz have a tough road ahead of them playing in a tough Western Conference and a competitive Northwest Division. Expect another lottery pick for Salt Lake.