The Jazz selected Dante Exum with the fifth pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. Here’s a look at Exum and how he fits with Utah:
Bio: Australian Institute of Sport | Country: Australia | Age: 18 | Point guard
Vitals: 6-6, 196 pounds
2013-14 stats: N/A. Exum averaged 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists in nine games at the FIBA U19 World Championships last year.
Strengths: An athletic and intelligent guard with great size, Exum has drawn comparisons to Penny Hardaway and Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams of Philadelphia. Though there's been speculation about his NBA position (largely because of his size), those familiar with his game -- and Dante himself -- are adamant that he's a point guard. Adept at both scoring and creating for teammates, Exum excels with the ball and projects as a high-quality defender with a 6-9 wingspan.
Weaknesses: Most teams haven’t seen him play much, aside from an appearance at the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit, so his game is a bit of a mystery. His jumper is improving but will need some work. Whether he plays point guard or slides to shooting guard more remains to be seen.
Team Fit: Orlando's decision to take Aaron Gordon with the No. 4 pick gave Utah a chance to land another guard with star potential. Exum might not be thrilled about the prospect of playing shooting guard in the NBA, but lining up alongside Trey Burke, the ninth pick in 2013, will allow both guards the opportunity to initiate offense and work off the ball. Exum will also spend plenty of time cross-matched to defend point guards, where his length and athleticism will make him a matchup menace. With all of that in mind, the positional distinction is somewhat arbitrary for Exum and the Jazz. This pairing should play to the mutual strengths of both lead guards while supplying plenty of dynamism.
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This selection also bodes well for power forward Derrick Favors, who -- provided that the Jazz retain swingman Gordon Hayward in free agency -- will have three capable ball handlers to work with in the pick-and-roll. Slowly but surely, Utah's roster is shaping up with players who see the floor well and can handle a variety of responsibilities.
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