Dante Exum has been well-known by Laker die-hard fans as a draft favorite. There are similarities to him as a prospect, just as Kobe Bryant was as a prospect. Even a fellow editor disagreed that Exum had any similarities to Bryant. There was even hype about him after his Australian year finished. It seemed like it was trying to force his way to become a Laker. There was even a prospect matchup on LakeShowLife; Dante Exum vs. Marcus Smart.
That being the case, this shouldn’t be a surprise.
Dante Exum measured well at the NBA combine. At the shooting guard position, he may be considered average. He’s 6’4″ with a 6’9.5″ wingspan at 196lbs. He measured right at par with fellow draftee, Jordan Adams from UCLA. In terms of NBA similarity, he compares well to Phoenix Suns player Archie Goodwin in terms of height, wingspan, and standing reach. Goodwin is listed at 6’3.75″ with a 6’9.5″ wingspan and 189lbs. Both Goodwin and Exum are very young. Exum is still 18 years old, while Goodwin is now 19 years old with an NBA rookie year under his belt.
In fact, both players have similar styles of play. Both players like to attack the basket, but go about it in different ways. Exum likes to create plays off-the-dribble, often finding opportunities for teammates. Goodwin, uses quickness and footwork to get to the basket. When both players are finishing well in the paint, their confidence grows, and their jumpshots start to drop. Both can be considered streaky jumpshooters, but once that skill becomes more consistent, both of them will be very tough to defend.
During his interview with Draftexpress, he mentioned what skills he worked on, what teams have interviewed with him, and how he sees himself at the NBA level. Gone are the cliche remarks about being able to slash like Derrick Rose. He mentioned names such as Russell Westbrook and Manu Ginobili, which reflect highly of an attacking style, aggressive to the rim, but also clever when necessary.
Teams are getting a better feel for the prospects. Exum is a guy who is intriguing. There simply isn’t too much known about his game compared to other prospects. At the same time, he has elite size for the position he wants to play, basketball IQ beyond his years, and good habits on both ends of the floor. Did we mention he’s still 18 years old?
Being in Los Angeles, training with Tim Grover, and sharing Kobe Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka may have had him the most prepared prospect entering the combine. We can only hope that the Lakers are fortunate in the draft lottery and become eligible for a pick higher than #6. If that’s the case, don’t be surprised if he dons a Laker jersey. After all, he was a Laker in Australia. Maybe, he’s a Laker for life.