Utah Jazz: Despite initial optimism, Dante Exum won’t be returning soon
Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum participated in parts of practice on Wednesday, but disappointingly, he remains out for at least another two weeks.
Earlier in the season, it appeared that Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum was finally starting to get things figured out. Throughout the month of December, he had several great performances on both ends of the floor as he appeared stout on defense and very much improved in his execution on offense. Unfortunately, shortly into the month of January, he went down with a sprained ankle and yet again found himself sidelined.
Originally, many Jazz fans presumed that Exum’s annoying injury wouldn’t keep him out too long. But after only a couple of evaluations, it was ultimately determined that he’d be out until after the All-Star break. Such was frustrating, but the collective thought was that as long as he could be back after the break, the Jazz would be in good shape having him for their most critical stretch.
The optimism continued on Wednesday as it was announced that Exum went through parts of practice. As my J-Notes colleague Ryan Aston noted, this should have been a reassuring indication that Dante was nearing a return. I’m relatively certain that such was the assumption that nearly every Jazz fan believed to be true. Unfortunately, an updated report proved otherwise.
When Exum was reevaluated the following day, it was announced that he would miss at a minimum another two weeks due to his severe ankle sprain. According to Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News, Dante also suffered a bone bruise when he sprained his ankle, which is the reason for the lengthy recovery.
This is a discouraging development for the Utah Jazz. Especially with Ricky Rubio struggling so immensely as he showed Friday night with his ridiculous turnovers and putrid defense, the Jazz are hurting at the point guard spot with Exum out so long due to injury.
Assuming Dante is able to return in two weeks’ time after he’s reevaluated, which at this point seems questionable at best, that would mean he wouldn’t be back until a March 8th battle against the Memphis Grizzlies. As such, he will miss important contests against the LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks. He would certainly be useful in each of those bouts.
Exum has become no stranger to watching from the sidelines as he’s been plagued by injury after injury throughout his career. This one is especially frustrating since it was originally believed to be little more than a brief setback. However, with Exum out for a minimum of two more weeks, one can’t help but wonder if he’ll truly be able to round back into form this season and provide any sort of true value to the Jazz prior to 2018-19’s end.
One thing is for certain, the Utah Jazz have a lot to consider this summer at the point guard spot. Between Dante Exum’s injury history and Ricky Rubio’s spotty play, there’s undoubtedly a hole that needs to be filled.