Dante Exum still has a chance
Many fans were surprised when it was announced that Dante Exum would be participating in this summer’s Summer League action. Most third-year players who have a guaranteed contract and a defined role on an NBA team, don’t participate in Summer League.
It was exciting to see Dante actively trying to get better. By participating in Summer League, he is showing the Jazz organization and fans that he is actively committed to doing just that.
And he did look better.
While playing in the Utah Jazz Summer League, he averaged 20 points, 6.3 assist and 4.3 rebounds, in only 27 minutes a game.
In every game that he was in, he looked like the best player on the floor. As a player with two full seasons under his belt, he should have looked like the best player on the floor. Still, it was reassuring to Jazz fans to see Exum look like the former 5th pick in the draft.
He reaffirmed what we already know – that he has a lightning quick first step that allows him to blow by defenders to get to the rim, that he is comfortable running the point and seeing over the defense, and that he can play lock-down defense with his length.
The most exciting development was what he showed us that we didn’t already know. We knew he could get to the rim, but now he was actually able to finish at the rim. As he has gotten stronger, he is better able to absorb contact and still finish at the basket.
He also showed more confidence in taking the 3-point shot when players go under the screen. Every scouting report will say to go under the screen on Dante, so it will be necessary that he make them pay for that.
The most exciting development though, may have been during the first Summer League game against San Antonio, where Dante came off of a screen and confidently rose up for a free throw line jump shot off the dribble.
Throughout his career, Dante has shown absolutely no ability to shoot off the dribble. It is a skill that he will need to develop if he is going to emerge into an above average point guard in this league.
There is still a long way to go for Dante Exum, but it is important to remember that he is still only 21 years old. The ability and growth he showed in just three Summer League games, should give Utah fans a lot of confidence going forward.