On Thursday night, the Utah Jazz took a big step forward in their rebuild process when they selected Dante Exum with the fifth overall pick in the NBA Draft. Now we look ahead at how Exum can fit in with the current Utah Jazz roster.
Exum stands at 6’6″ tall and has considered himself as a point guard, not a shooting guard, a point guard. However, most NBA scouts and experts see Exum as being able to play the shooting guard position better than the point. For the Jazz, they would like to see Exum play both positions due to what the Jazz currently have on the roster.
The Jazz finished the season with Trey Burke and Alec Burks starting in the back court. For fans, this was something they had wanted to see all season long, and it seemed to be a great fit. Once the Jazz went to a starting lineup of their “core five”, the offense improved. Trey finished the season averaging more assists per game than any point guard in franchise history, while Alec provided instant excitement as soon as he touched the court.
Now we add Exum to the mix, where he is a lightning quick guard with length, and scouts have talked about how explosive he is with the ball in his hands. He has two key knocks on his game, however. For starters, he is still very young. Exum doesn’t turn 19 years old for another two weeks. He has a lot of talent, and because of his age, he has a ton of upside. However, fans will need to keep in mind that he will need to mature and develop, and that will take time. Secondly, he has to become more consistent with his jump shot. Experts know that Exum can shoot, but his problem lies with shooting from the outside. The Jazz will need him to work on that part of his game to make the offense flow better.
A lot of people believe that Exum will come in and start right away. There is a good chance that he could, however, we also need to keep an open mind about the current situation the Jazz are in. We as fans have been in love with Alec for a long time, and have been screaming for him to get into the starting lineup. With Trey, who will only be entering his second year in the league, we talked all season about how great he was and how much better the Jazz were with him on the court. Does drafting Dante Exum push one of those players straight to the bench?
If you stop and think about it, it seems unlikely that the Jazz would draft a player fifth overall in the draft and have him come off the bench. However, the Jazz organization will evaluate the situation and do whatever puts the Jazz and Exum in the best situation. The Jazz front office has also stated multiple times in the past that even John Stockton didn’t start when he was a rookie.
Trey and Alec, in my opinion, can be a really good back court. Trey is great at getting the ball to guys in the right place, and also shoots fantastic. With that being said, Trey will always be knocked for his size. Alec is explosive and exciting to watch on the court, however, his knock is that he has to improve his shooting.
Trey and Dante could be an exciting option as well. Dante, I think everyone will agree, should be a better player in the future than Alec will be. Part of what could make Exum’s future look bright is his length. If he can learn how to utilize his length on the defensive end, he could be fantastic in a back court with Trey.
The other lineup that we could possibly see is Dante running the point, while Alec plays beside him at the shooting guard position. This lineup could be exciting. Both players are explosive and can get to the rim. Both guys can make plays on the offensive end of the court, however, they both have the same knock right now, shooting. This could be a problem early because teams would collapse into the paint, instead of respecting the outside shot. However, if both players turn out to shoot the ball well, this could be an extremely exciting lineup to watch, and could be the best option in the future.
In my opinion, the Jazz will start Trey and Dante at the guard position. A lot of fans were upset last season when Alec didn’t get to start, and was the first player off the bench. However, Alec thrived in that role and was our only option off the bench. I believe that the Jazz love Alec playing the sixth man role, and he excepted that role last year. Alec could be a Jamal Crawford type player for the Jazz if he can buy in to it. Trey, I still believe, is the point guard of the future for the Jazz franchise. Dante, I believe, will be the combo guard that starts at the shooting guard position.
There will be some bumps and bruises along the way this upcoming season while the young back court tries to figure things out, but the future looks extremely bright in Utah.