Australian star Dante Exum has been considered a top pick in the upcoming 2014 NBA draft for the majority of the season. He has been considered a lock for a top 5 pick and some have said he should be in consideration for the number 1 pick. It seems as though in the last couple weeks that Exum’s stock has been cooling off quite a bit and the fact that he didn’t play in college and get to play in front of scouts and GM’s might be catching up to him. Knowing the talent and potential that this draft has I think there is a definite chance that there could be some players getting draft outside of what’s predicted. The top 3 (Embiid, Wiggins, Parker) are most likely going to stay there and would be very surprising if one of those 3 slipped. Outside of those 3 things could really get shaken up and Exum could possibly be the one who falls.
Chad Ford, ESPN Senior Writer and NBA Insider, wrote this about Exum early in the season:
Aug. 13 Update: Exum had the biggest summer of any player on the Big Board. He was awesome in the FIBA U-19 championships this summer, averaging 18 PPG and nearly 4.0 APG. A 33-point game against Spain in the quarterfinals and a 28-point game in the bronze-medal game versus Lithuania were highlights. He seems to have the perfect blend of size, athleticism and skill to play either the point or the 2. Add in his rangy defense, and he’s a true two-way player. He graduates from high school in December and, technically, if he wanted to he could join an NCAA team for the second half of the season. However, he may not have to. He impressed scouts enough this summer that he seems like a lock to be a top-5 pick if he declares for the draft. He’s also a dark horse for the No. 1 pick.
This goes to show how high his stock has been throughout the year. Chad Ford currently has Exum at number 4 on his big board behind Embiid, Wiggins and Parker but recent mock drafts have him slipping past 4 to the Magic. It has been said that the Magic are targeting a point guard to play along side of Victor Oladipo so Exum would seem like the obvious pick but the risk of selecting a player who just finished high school and didn’t play against the elite talent across the NCAA this year may make GM’s more likely to pass on him.
Recently the Orlando Magic brought Marcus Smart in for a second workout. Last season the Magic were expected to take Smart with the 2nd overall pick but Smart decided to stay at Oklahoma State for another season. The Magic went with Victor Oladipo and now will have another chance to take Smart with the 4th pick if they so choose. The front office of the Magic may feel more comfortable drafting a guy they have tons and tons of film on and had in for multiple workouts than a guy like Exum who has question marks surrounding what he actually will be in the NBA. It’s a real possibility for Orlando to pass at 4 and go with Smart over Exum on June 26th.
You would think that the Jazz would be ecstatic if Exum fell to them at 5 and would snatch him right up but don’t put it pass Dennis Lindsay to pass on him either. Noah Vonleh has been soaring up draft boards and after his workout in New York and earned him this tweet from Chad Ford:
Said another “Vonleh’s got elite physical tools and is very skilled. He should be in the same group with Wiggins, Embiid, Parker & Exum”
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 30, 2014
If Vonleh is playing and impressing scouts that much you can be sure that he has caught Dennis Lindsay’s attention. Another player who seems to be impression the Jazz is Aaron Gordon. Immediately following the introduction of Jazz new Head Coach Quin Snyder both Dennis Lindsay and Snyder walked into the gym to watch Aaron Gordon working out. Tony Jones who covers the Jazz and NBA for the Salt Lake Tribune tweeted this about Gordon’s workout for the Jazz:
The Jazz were very impressed by Aaron Gordon’s workout this afternoon
— Tony Jones (@Tjonessltrib) June 7, 2014
So there’s another player who seems to be pushing his way into the mix for the Jazz pick at number 5. With all these options and knowing how deliberate Dennis Lindsay is with evaluating players I can imagine that he has quite a problem on his hands deciding on who the best player for this team will be. Either way having this problem is a good thing for Jazz fans and you can trust that Dennis Lindsay will make the correct decision.
Below the Jazz sit the Celtics and Lakers. If somehow Exum does fall to the Celtics you would think it would be a no brainer for them to draft him but they do have Rajon Rondo and it seems like Exum wouldn’t be a very good fit there unless they plan on moving Rondo. If they do move Rondo then Exum would be a great player to step in and try to fill those shoes being the long athletic guard that he is said to be. Below the Celtics are the Lakers who undoubtedly would draft Exum if he was still on the board at 7. The Lakers would be jumping for joy if this possibly happened but honestly I don’t think there’s a chance he gets that far. If Exum slides some team will make some kind of move and trade up so they can draft him if he does start to slide on draft day.
Personally what I think will happen is that the Magic do decide to go with Marcus Smart over Exum and that when he’s there at 5 the Jazz draft him and play him along side of Trey or coming off the bench for a year. I think he would be well received here in Utah and he would fit in nicely with the young group we have and new coach Quin Snyder. Exum has too high of an upside to fall too far in this draft and so I don’t see him falling any farther than 6 with the Celtics even with Rondo still on the roster.