ESPN provides a ton of content every day, they have experts watching all the games and they have found out the secret to internet success is numerical lists. David Thrope, a development expert, has been ranking rookies for years now for the Worldwide leader. And the top of the rookie rankings so far this season list our very own Dante Exum as #1. Clearly it was his potential that dazzled so many teams, and made it a no-brainer for the Utah Jazz to snatch him up when he fell to #5.
Check out the full ESPN Insider article here, but this is a small excerpt to whet your appetite.
1. Dante Exum, Jazz
We saw Exum's "it" factor in summer league and he has been terrific this season, showing the ability to make both simple passes and tough ones (when required) to teammates for easy shots. He makes hard drives and dishes for 3s or dunks. He delivers lobs. He leads fast breaks, which result in wide-open scoring chances. And, most impressively, he finds open shooters far away from the action.
He's doing this with very few mental errors, too, while also managing the game. Exum is playing like someone who deserved to be drafted first overall.
Jabari Parker is #3, K.J. McDaniels is #4, Elfrid Payton is #5, Aaron Gordon is #6, last year's big man Nerlens Noel is #7, and Andrew Wiggins comes in at #8. It's a 20 player list, and the breakdowns are worth breaking down and buying Insider access for. Especially since Rodney Hood makes the list at #14, and I think it would be unethical for me to copy and paste what Thorpe says about him too.
Granted, a lot of rooks have started slowly this season, so this isn't purely a numbers game right now. Though it could be in the future as the season goes on. But it's nice to see Dante get the pub early, he came into the league with a lot of momentum. Pre-draft national TV ads. He made a big splash in Vegas on his first scoring play. But since then you haven't heard a lot about him -- unless you are among that crazy Top 5% of the NBA audience, or are a Jazz fan.
Oh, and for what it's worth, Marcus Smart is last on this list. Yup. Eat it, Bill Simmons.