Dante Exum is continuing to show promising signs in the first couple of weeks of this young NBA season. Meanwhile, Joe Ingles is contributing, but his role on the team is somewhat diminished.
The Jazz have just completed a 5 game road-trip in the East, which included 2 back-to-backs. The team showed some real resolve as they won 4 out of 5, dropping just the 1 game to the Charlotte Hornets.
Dante Exum is looking more comfortable with every game he plays. His recovery from the ACL injury was a long road, and getting his first start of the season against Orlando was a huge step forward. With George Hill out injured, coach Quin Snyder initially went with Shelvin Mack as the replacement starter, but after a good game against Charlotte, Exum forced his way into the starting line-up.
Exum had an aggressive mindset against the Hornets, showing off his ability to drive to the basket - a key to his game as he continues to gain confidence in his body.
This confidence was highlighted by a play in the third quarter which saw Exum drive hard along the baseline and attempt a dunk over THREE Hornets defenders. He didn't finish the dunk, but was fouled and earned a trip the line.
Exum finished the game with 6 points and 5 assists in 23 minutes.
In his second consecutive start, Exum scored 10 points (2/4 from 3FG), in a win over the Miami Heat yesterday.
Whilst Exum's numbers don't jump out at you, it is the little things - such as his increased aggressiveness - that are showing he is well on his way to becoming exactly what the Utah Jazz need him to be in the future.
The return of Gordon Hayward was always going to impact Ingles' role. There is no doubt that Hayward will be in the All-Star conversation when that time comes, and his return has seen a dip in Ingles' time on the court.
Hayward missed the first 6 games of the season through injury, and over that time Ingles averaged almost 18 minutes of game time. Since Hayward's return, Ingles is playing just over 13 minutes per game. This was inevitable and Hayward has been a game changer for the Jazz since his first game against New York.
Ingles is still his usual self, providing energy, spacing and dishing out some nice assists. Case in point.
Ingles' 13 minutes per game, with Hayward in the team, is pretty fair. If Ingles can play consistently and provide spacing, as well knocking down triples at a decent clip, he should be getting around that 10-15 minutes per game. Knocking down triples, or any shots for that matter, is something that hasn't been happening for Ingles so far this season.
Excluding the one game against Philadelphia, a blowout win, when Ingles had 8 shot attempts, he has only had 5 shot attempts in his last 4 four games - making just 1 of those shots. Ingles' shooting just isn't being utilised on the offensive end. The Jazz have so many weapons on the offensive end; Hayward, Hill, Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson are all capable offensive players.
Undoubtedly, Ingles' time will come, but until then it is up to him to stay positive and be a leader for the team. This won't be a problem for Slo-Mo Joe.
The Jazz are now 7-4, and take on the Grizzlies on Tuesday.