Aussies in NBA: 5 Dante Exum takeaways from the preseason
After a spending a year out of the game what did Dante Exum's preseason play suggest we can expect from him during the regular season?
Physically he looks great
Any physical concerns about loss of athleticism due to his ACL injury were well and truly put to bed.
Exum has put on size and retained his lightning fast first step and agility. This should help him absorb contact when attacking the basket and the strength to defend small forwards.
His defense is elite
Exum was already impressive on the defensive end as a rookie and his performance in the preseason suggests he could be even better this season.
He has sprinkled on a little more size and savvy onto his elite athletic gifts and looks to be one of the better defensive guards in the NBA.
His strip on Jamal Crawford perfectly encapsulated his ability to beat his man to the point of attack, then disrupt the play with his long arms.
He is focused on attacking the basket
Exum generally was much more aggressive attacking the basket during the preseason.
He took 19 free throws in his six preseason games. He still needs to improve his free throw rate, but its a significant increase on the 32 he took across 82 games as a rookie.
It’s no surprise his two best offensive performances of the preseason correlated with his two highest free throw attempts.
Exum still has a habit of settling for 3’s – but importantly he is aware of how he needs to play and his coach is encouraging him to attack.
If he is going to be a star offensively he needs to attempt to play more like Russell Westbrook rather than Steph Curry.
He will play more shooting guard
Exum ended up playing most of his time at shooting guard during the preseason.
Initially the move was made out of necessity due to a number of injuries to the Jazz wing players. But he looked comfortable playing off the ball and the Jazz batting deep at point guard he looks set to spend more time there.
Also, relieving him of playmaking duties will help ease him back into NBA play.
He will be inconsistent offensively
Exum understandably still has a lot of wrinkles to iron out of his game on the offensive end. Some preseason games he looked virtually unstoppable, others you wouldn't know he was there.
This is largely due to the aforementioned tendency to be passive on offense, along with his youth and injury layoff.
His defensive is consistent and will continue to add value, so the Jazz wont have a problem keeping him on the court.
Dante Exum and the Jazz will be kicking off the real stuff against the Trailblazers at 1pm on Wednesday (AEST)!!!