Utah Jazz 2014-15 Player Review: Dante Exum


Looking back on the Utah Jazz 2014-15 season that was. 22 players logged minutes, some stepped forward, others back. Some were called up from the ether, others packed bags for alternate destinations. 

Dante Exum

The risk taken by Dennis Lindsey in selecting the, at the time, little known Australian point guard Dante Exum can still be easily questioned. The young 19-year old with a seemingly limitless amount of potential showed glimpses of the high-level player he may become, but struggled just as often if not more in his transition to the NBA.

He arrived in Salt Lake with a “scoring” label, with the ability to score at the rim at will. However after a season in which Exum played all 82 games, Dante emerged as the best defender in his draft class, while his offensive game was left to be sought after.

The rookie season didn’t quite go as well as hoped for Dante Exum.

2014-15 Season Stats

22.2 MPG, 4.8 PPG, 2.4 APG, 1.6 RPG, 1.5 TOV, 0.5 SPG, 34.9% FGs, 31.4% 3FGs, 102.3 ORTG, 99 DRTG


The greatest strength of Exum’s was his impact on the defensive end of the floor. This was proven with Utah’s resurgence as the league’s best defensive team after the All-star break as a starter. Since Exum’s insertion into the starting line-up, Utah has posted a defensive rating of 97.1 points per 100 possessions, leading the league.

Exum’s 6’9 wingspan and 6’6 height makes him an imposing and daunting match-up for his opponents. Dante then possesses the lateral quickness and agility to make the defensive stop, then quickly creating a score at the other end.

Among rookies who have played 50 games or more, Exum currently ranks 1st in defensive rating across the entire season, above more credentialed defenders in Nerlens Noel, KJ McDaniels and Elfrid Payton.


Dante Exum stuggled mightily on the opposing side of the floor, with his offense. This is ironic, as it was Exum’s offense offense of Exum was what allowed him to stand out in the Nike Hoops Summit and U19 FIBA World Championships, where he attracted the majority of his NBA attention.

"“Dante Exum had a phenomenal game as well, showcasing his ball-handling ability, speed, and skill level en route to 16 points. Making a number of impressive moves attacking the rim, Exum demonstrated just how dynamic he can be with the ball in his hands, even if he didn’t get to run the point as frequently as he has in FIBA competition” – Matt Kamalsky, DraftExpress"

It’s amazing how quick things changed in relation to Dante’s ability to score the basketball. However, this can be quickly attributed to his youth and inexperience.

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Exum was frequently found to be timid on offense, failing to attack the rim, instead resorting to the three-point line. Dante took 126 two-point shots this season, with only 67 being within 4 feet, showing his reluctance to attack and shoot at the rim, only attempting 0.81 of these shots per game. Comparing this to his three-point attempts, being 290 over the season, it’s evident that Exum needs to cut down on his proportion of three-point shots, and to increase the frequency of his drives to the rim.

Another issue with Exum this year was his inability to get to the free-throw line. Since the New Year, in which he played 49 games, Dante made it to the free-throw line five times. This is the biggest glaring hole to do with Exum’s overall game, as it limits his ability to impact on the scoreboard, and find easy assist opportunities for teammates due to his inability to will himself to absorb contact.

Exum’s first year was disappointing statistically, but there were many bright spots beyond the traditional look at a stat sheet. The largest of which being his impact on defense.

Largely due to his athletic ability, Exum will find himself Utah’s point guard for years to come. It’s plays like this below, where he’s able to recover from seemingly impossible situations to recover from.

Throughout this off-season, Dante needs to spend a heavy amount of time within the weight room. Exum needs to be able to absorb contact from larger bodies, and this will occur with added muscle mass, allowing him to get to the free-throw line earlier and more often.

A more consistent three-point shot will also be a benefit for Exum to work on over this off-season.

It’s safe to say that Utah won’t be giving up on the Exum project any time soon, and neither should they.

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