Exum hopeful of Rio return with Boomers
As some of our Aussies in the NBA embark on their postseason journeys this weekend, take a moment to spare a thought for those whose teams didn't make it into the playoffs.
Dante Exum wasn't going to participate even if the Utah Jazz had managed to hang on to that eighth seed, but the end of the Jazz's 2015-16 season is essentially the start of Exum Watch. With nothing on the court to look forward to, the return of their point guard of the future must rank pretty highly on every Utah fan's priority list.
They have reason to be excited.
The recovery of Dante's knee continues apace, with the young guard now cleared for everything just short of contact. The process has been a long one, but he's taken his time with it and is in a good place, mentally.
"They told me at the start that we weren’t going to rush it and we’re gonna take it slow. So it’s just been a long process and I’m respecting it. I want to be back as best as possible, but without rushing the process. [That said], I feel good and I’ve felt good for awhile, so I’m just ready to take the next step." Exum told reporters at his exit interview.
He also talked about things that I've covered before on the site; the year out has given him ample time and opportunity to work on his shot and learn the coaches' perspective when it comes to running plays and controlling the tempo of the game.
We can also look forward to a burlier Dante, apparently.
"[Working on my upper body] was pretty much all I could do at the start. There was a lot of upper body lifting, so I definitely added on some strength and size. I’m also looking to cut down some weight this coming summer, [to] get into game shape." he stated.
Contrary to earlier reports, Exum confirmed that he wouldn't be participating in Summer League basketball.
"I don’t think I’ll play Summer League. Just from the standpoint of where I think I’ll be at, I don’t think [playing at] Summer League is the best choice," However, there appears to be a silver lining here for Boomers fans.
"If I’m going to get games before [next season], it’s gonna be [with] Olympic preparation." Dante explained.
So, perhaps a run with the national team will serve as the rust shake-off. Potentially exciting developments lie ahead for Exum and the Boomers!
Of course, no one could fault him for being apprehensive about joining up with the Boomers again, since his injury occurred while on national duty. That said, psychologically-speaking, he's adopting the right mindset and seems ready to rock and roll.
"I think the biggest thing for me on the mental side is not to shy away from it just because I think I might get injured. I’m already defeating myself if I say that. So if I’m not ready, I’m not ready. But if I think I’m ready, and it’s a possibility [to be able to play for the Boomers], then I’ll do it."
Strong words indeed. Here's hoping he can join the team in their quest for Rio gold!