Dante Exum Drops The Dish Like A Drunken Bus Boy


Apr 1, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) dribbles the ball around Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum (11) during the first quarter at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his struggles throughout the season, Utah Jazz rookie point-man Dante Exum has shown flashes of greatness time and time again. ESPN’s David Thorpe even went so far as to label the Australian a future All-Star in the league.

In Wednesday night’s 98-84 dismantling of the Denver Nuggets, Exum offered what may have been the best evidence yet of the bright future that could await him.

The 19-year-old was the Nien Nunb to the Jazz frontcourt’s Lando Calrissian as it destroyed Denver’s Death Star, moving the ball in Stocktonesque fashion to the tune of 12 assists. The total marked both the highest of Exum’s young career and a season-high tally for the Jazz.

In addition to dropping the dish like a drunken bus boy, he also managed to do this:

There are simply no words.

On the surface, Exum has served up a ho-hum first year in the NBA. Some even claim he’s the worst of the league’s starting point guards. Nights like this and the incremental growth that has been displayed throughout the season speak loudly to the contrary and offer Jazz fans hope for a big return on last year’s No. 5 overall pick.

Of course, Exum wasn’t the only hero in what was the team’s 34th victory of the season. The beneficiaries of Exum’s court vision, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, looked the part of an elite front line in the NBA. For the game, the duo combined for 39 points, 19 rebounds, and five blocked shots. Gobert in particular was on fire, hitting on all seven of his attempts from the field en route to a career-high point total.

Also en fuego was Joe Ingles, who knocked down four three-point shots in five tries. Gordon Hayward was quiet in the first half, but looked the part of an All-Star in the second half, helping to push the game beyond the Nuggets’ reach with his all-around play.

I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention Trevor Booker and Trey Burke. After hitting rock bottom against the Minnesota Timberwolves last week, Burke has notched several strong efforts in a row. Against Denver, he put up 12 points, five boards, and four assists; the Jazz were plus-15 overall when he was on the floor. Meanwhile, Booker’s effort and passion continues to ignite his teammates’ fire.

For Denver’s part, coach Melvin Hunt’s team bore little resemblance to the squad that throttled the Jazz just a few, short days ago. Outside of runs to close out the first quarter and in garbage time, the stifling Jazz defense suffocated the boys in blue. For the night, the Nuggets hit on only 34.7-percent of their shot attempts and misfired on 26 of their 33 tries from behind the arc.

It was an incredible effort on both sides of the ball for Exum and crew.

Before the season, I predicted that the Jazz would win 34 games. With seven games left, the club has a great shot at beating that total by several wins. If the team that played against the Nuggets continues to show up for coach Quin Snyder, you can bet those W’s will keep coming to close out this season and beyond.

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