Former Utah Jazz guard, Dante Exum, looks every bit the player they hoped he’d be.
If you’ve been watching the Utah Jazz for long, you know all about Dante Exum. Exum was a lottery pick by the Jazz in 2014, and the hope was that the lengthy Australian would turn into a two-way player for the Jazz, one who focused on good perimeter defense and dynamic play-making at the top of the key. Injuries and a bad shot would doom his time in Utah, and after being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, would end up out of the league for a spell.
After spending two seasons in Spain and Serbia, Exum has returned to the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks in what is one of the best comeback stories of the season. His pairing with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving has many wondering what Exum would and could look like among such top talent.
His defense was never an issue and now the guard is showing what he can do offensively as well, having shot 44% and better from three during his time away. Now, Exum seems like the well-rounded guard the Jazz had hoped to get.
And even more impressive, he’s playing like it during the NBA preseason.
He’s played in all three games for the Mavericks so far this preseason and played well, with his latest preseason game against Real Madrid seeing him start. With his and Luka Doncic’s height, there is a real possibility that Exum could start alongside Irving and Doncic, as either a small forward or in a three-guard starting five.
And it’s possible Exum earns that spot too, as the Mavericks have experimented with starting lineups that included Olivier-MaxenceProsper, Josh Green, and Derrick Jones Jr. at the small forward position. Putting Exum in that spot, or more specifically Doncic, would allow the Mavericks to have a guard/forward in Exum who could play defense against anyone while being able to contribute on offense.
It’s the best way forward for the Mavs and for Exum. And while Exum may no longer be a member of the Jazz, the fact is we don’t want to see him or really any member of the franchise (past or present) fail. We love seeing Exum finally hitting his stride, and we’re happy that if it can’t be here in Salt Lake, it’s at least on a team that sees his value.
That said, our celebration of Exum’s newfound success will take a pause when the Jazz and Mavericks collide in the regular (and maybe post) season.