In the sixth of our review articles, today we take a look at Dante Exum of the Utah Jazz.
Dante Exum missed all of last season due to the ACL injury that he suffered at the end of his rookie year. In a game for Australia, Exum injured his knee on a drive in what looked like an innocuous incident. Unfortunately for the number five pick in the 2015 draft, the injury was serious.
November marked the first full month back in the NBA since the injury and Exum is already showing the benefits of his learning from last year. Yes, he was on the sidelines but any time spent at an NBA franchise is not wasted if you are willing to learn. Exum was obviously very ready to learn.
In his rookie season, Exum averaged 22.2 minutes, 4.8 points, 2.4 assists 1.6 rebounds and 0.5 steals per game. His rookie season slash line was 35/31/63 which certainly needed to be improved on if he was to justify the high pick that he was selected with in the draft.
This season, Exum is a slightly different player. In November, Exum averaged only 20.6 minutes per game, starting six of a possible 15 that he played and missing one because the coach did not put him into the game. In November, Exum averaged 6.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.2 steals per game. He did this with the slash line of 40/30/69 which is better than his rookie season.
Interestingly, Exum is more comfortable in the driving lanes, hence his increased points output at better field goal percent. I think that Exum is still a little unsure on his knee and this is costing him in his defense. His steals per game is down and I think that this may be as a result of Exum not wanting to try his knee defending, when he is unsure of what his opponent is doing. When he is in control, his knee is not a problem. As a result of this hesitation, Exum is fouling more on his defense. He has committed five fouls once and four fouls three times.
However, it is not all doom and gloom for Exum. Yes, he lost his full time starting spot because George Hill has been doing some amazing things. In Exum’s 15 November games he scored in double figures six times. In his rookie year, he only accomplished that feat 13 times. He only did it twice before the end of November last season.
Exum’s rebounding could potentially become a factor in his career. He collected seven rebounds once and six rebounds once in November. The scary bit is that of those six, four of those rebounds were on the offensive end.
Exum did not have a very good November for assists. He only had one game over two assists. This was a five assist effort against the Charlotte Hornets in a loss. However, Exum did have a good rim protecting game against San Antonio at the start of the month when he blocked four shots.
Dante Exum is progressing as a second year player should. With the players in front of him in the depth chart, there is now less pressure than his rookie year as he is not having to learn his craft more against seasoned veterans. November was a solid month for Exum, here is hoping that he builds on it for December