Twice in the first round of Thursday’s NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz were looking up at players they coveted and hoping for a good bounce or two. Both times, they got the bounces.
Australian guard Dante Exum (no. 5) and Duke product Rodney Hood (23) both made their way to Utah’s spots. The Jazz happily added both players to their growing arsenal of young, promising talent.
Exum, despite being somewhat unknown, was largely considered one of the top four prospects in the draft, so grabbing him at five was an unexpected coup for the Jazz. Exum is lightning quick and explosive, and his real strength is that at 6-6 with legitimate point guard skills, he can be really disruptive at creating angles and exploiting his size and finishing ability. He thinks he’ll fit in Utah’s new culture, too.
“I spoke to coach (Quin Snyder) and he had a lot of positive things to say, and how he was a point guard and how he thinks he can help me, so it’s been good,” the Aussie phenom said. He mentioned specifically a desire to play an up-tempo game, something that Snyder has said he hopes to institute more, and later he told me about his comfort level in the pick-and-roll.
The Jazz made it clear going into this draft process that they were looking for potential franchise talent. “All-stars,” Walt Perrin panned on more than one occasion to Salt Lake media. With Exum unexpectedly slipping to the fifth pick, they might have a shot at just that. Exum, though, is prepared to put in the work and let time run its course.
“That’s the future,” Exum said in response to whether he’s a franchise player in the making. “You never know what’s going to happen in the future. I take it one day at a time. I’m trying to do what I can now so I can get to that caliber… But I’m just going to work hard every day and see what happens.”
There are those who would say Exum is being overly modest here, and ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla leads that club. Fraschilla famously compared Exum to a young Michael Jordan, about the h