Three years on from his first moment in the big time lets look back upon the up and down career of the talented young Aussie, Dante Exum.
Exum was drafted as the 5th overall pick in the 2014 draft straight out of the Australian high school system.
A young bright eyed talent of 19, he went from playing against 18 year old Australian teenagers to starting against the best athletes and basketball players in the world.
As you could imagine this went about as well as expected with Dante looking far out of his depth.
Then came the offseason and the summer league. Dante came into the Utah summer league looking like a star.
He was finally using his athleticism to attack the rim of the dribble, and was looking nothing like the timid teenager of yesteryear.
Dante would continue this momentum throughout the summer leaving the Utah summer league team, and joining the Australian team for their European tour. This is where disaster struck for Dante.
It was the 4th of August 2015, and Australia were playing Slovenia on Australia’s final game of their European tour when Dante’s leg would buckle on him whilst he was driving in the paint.
He would go back to Utah for testing, and find out he would be missing at least 6 months, the entire NBA season, with a torn ACL.
All the momentum he was building that summer? Gone; All the familiarity gained from attacking the rim? Gone; His sophomore NBA season? Gone.
Fast forward to the 2016/17 season, after an entire year of rehab and Dante and the Jazz are in a new place.
The Jazz are ready to push for the playoffs, and Dante won’t be starting anymore. Instead of being the lead guard growing with a young team, Dante is one of many guards in a deep backcourt.
He begins the year looking much like he did in his rookie year: timid to drive, camping in the corner waiting for the ball and generally looking lost out on the court.
That all changed when the All-star break hit. Dante came out of the break el fuego, setting season highs and career highs in points not long after the break.
He began looking like the guy from the previous summer who used his size, and athleticism to get to the rim.
Dante was a NBA calibre player at times, showing signs of being the athletic 6 foot 6 combo guard that Utah envisioned him becoming.
The role Dante would be best served playing is as a secondary playmaker that has the length to bother the opposition guards on defence, who has the ability to knock down open looks, and attack close outs on offence.
The question now is where does Dante go from here? Will he exceed expectations? Will he falter? He has the size, skills and athleticism to make himself a career in the NBA, but where, and how far he goes is all up to him.
By Samuel Simmonds
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