This is a second time I find myself writing about Dante Exum, but I simply don’t think there’s enough information about him and his abilities. With draft prospects, attributes can be broken down into several attributes; size, athleticism, offensive abilities, defensive abilities, and intangibles. Here’s what we need to know about Dante Exum.
Dante Exum is a 6’6″ point guard/shooting guard out of Australia. With a wingspan over 6’9″, he has excellent size at the point guard position, but he is a bit light for the shooting guard position. Still, he would be among the elite in terms of size at either position, and can cover each position defensively. Like Kobe Bryant, he’s a lightweight entering the NBA game. Kobe Bryant hovered around 200lbs. as a 17-year old drafted rookie, and Exum doesn’t have much more bulk at age 18.
Athletically, he’s underrated as a prospect. Bigger players who are able to cover quick positions on the NBA floor are difficult to gauge, simply because it’s more difficult to compare athleticism by natural position. Exum at the point guard position is quick. He has a very good first step and is able to blow by elite international competition on that first step alone. What makes him multi-dimensional offensively is his lateral quickness, speed, and vertical ability around the hoop. He’s not on par athletically around the hoop with the likes of Andrew Wiggins, but he is able to keep up with the faster point guards in the league from baseline to baseline. More impressively, his lateral quickness allows him to defend the point guard position effectively. Usually bigger guards will lack lateral quickness against small point guards, and make up for it with wingspan. Exum happens to have lateral quickness and wingspan combined.
Offensively, he’s a slasher. He uses advanced ball-handling moves; in-and-out dribble, the crossover, and a combination of both sequentially to breakdown a defender in isolation situations. Nick Young likes to utilize the crossover to create space for his jumpshot. Exum uses his ball-handling in combination with his first step to advance to the basket. He’s able to finish at the hoop with good vertical ability, but doesn’t flush it down in traffic like Kobe Bryant. Still, few players can finish like that. Exum’s jumpshot can be considered average at best, but he’s aware of it and has been working on it since the Nike Hoops Summit of last year. The shot pocket is a bit low, just above his forehead, and it allows the release to be more consistent and result in a flat shot. Better mechanics would go a long way, but he’s nowhere near Rajon Rondo or Leandro Barbosa in terms of perimeter shooting. He has all the tools to be a 40% 3-point shooter with a quick release down the line.
Here’s a link of some of his abilities on offense.
Defensively, he’s able to defend both guard positions. Added strength would allow him to defend the small forward position as well, but quickness is a premium with modern NBA rules. He uses good defensive positioning and is able to utilize his quickness and wingspan to force turnovers against his assignment or in team situations. All of the tools are there defensively; size, quickness, speed, wingspan, IQ, and activity. Imagine what he could do with refined commitment and tutelage from the NBA’s elite.
Overall, he’s an underrated prospect, even within the top 5 of the lottery. Embiid has a niggling knee injury that has slowed him the past couple of games. Wiggins hasn’t shown the kind of consistency or advanced moves from the perimeter. Defenders are solving Jabari Parker’s offense and forcing him into bad shots. Exum has yet to play against elite NCAA competition, but during the FIBA tournament and Nike Hoops Summit, his talent shined-through. During interviews, he comes off very humble, knowing what he needs to work on, and lists Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant as his favorite players to try to emulate. The last time the Lakers had a point guard this big, they dominated a decade. Those expectations are awfully high, but it would be nice to have a prospect that Laker fans can stand behind. In return, he’ll give the franchise wins for the future.