Utah Jazz select Dante Exum fifth overall


The Utah Jazz took the mystery man of the 2014 draft in Dante Exum after he fell into their laps.

Expected to be gone by at least the fourth pick, the Jazz had to be somewhat surprised by Exum being available. It’s an interesting fit with Trey Burke, given that Exum has said throughout the process that he believes he is a point guard. I’m not particularly sure that I buy that, but it could create some personality problems down the line.

Regardless of whether he’s a “point guard” or not, Exum is a good ball-handling guard that can attack the rim with a lightning quick first step. He’s one of those few athletes that you could describe as both “wildly explosive” and “smooth” at the same time. He floats through the air as he goes towards the rim, but his first step explosion is good enough to get him by just about any defender that an opponent will put in front of him. His jump shot mechanics waver from time to time off the dribble, so he’ll need to clean that up. But if he can do that, we’re talking about an elite offensive NBA 2-guard. Defensively there are still some question marks, both instinctually and strength wise, but given his length he has the potential to figure it out and be a plus player on that end that can guard both 1s and 2s.

Given that I actually mocked Marcus Smart to the Jazz at fifth overall, I think that a second ball-handler can work well with Burke. One of Burke’s best strengths is his shooting ability from distance (despite only shooting 33% this season). Allowing him to spot up off-ball from the wings while Exum attacks the rim should allow for strong spacing in Quin Snyder’s new scheme, where he wants to let three-pointers fly.

If the Jazz do end up keeping Gordon Hayward — a restricted free agent that also likes to handle the ball — it’s questionable how happy Exum will be as there won’t be as much ball to go around as he would like. But if Hayward is willing to step into a more secondary role off-ball and allow Exum to grow, the Jazz may have just gotten a future all-star shooting guard at fifth overall.