Realistic Expectations for Dante Exum's Rookie Year

The 2014 NBA draft has come and gone. The Jazz seem to want to pat themselves on the back for their latest draft selections. How will fans know if the Jazz have an All-Star or Superstar on their hands? What should the realistic expectations be for Dante if he is to be considered a future pillar for the Jazz organization at 19 years of age? I hate to be pessimistic so early after the draft but looking at Kobe and McGrady who both entered the NBA at a young age, it does appear that Dante is heading for some rough waters in Jazzland.

Some experts seemed to think that Dante reminds them of a young Kobe. Well Kobe's first year at 18 went something like this.....71 games played, 6 as a starter and 26 times he scored 4 pts or less with plenty of zero's on the scoreboard. Kobe averaged 15.5 minutes for the playoff bound Lakers. He did hit a season high 24 points late in his first season which was a sign of things to come. Kobe shot approx. 42 percent from two, 37 percent from three and averaged 7.6 points his first year.

By Kobe's second year, he played 79 games with 1 as a starter. He averaged 26 minutes per, 15.4 points per game, shot approx. 43 percent from two and 34 percent from three. By year three, Kobe had it rolling at 38 minutes per game, 46.5 percent from two but only hit 26.7 percent from three that year. He played in only 50 games and started 20. Clearly, the Lakers were a better team than the current state of the 2014 Jazz roster which limited Kobe's minutes early in his career.

Kobe does present a ceiling for Dante when it comes to reasonable expectations for his first couple of years in the league if he is to become a superstar. Kobe's career 3 point field goal percentage is 33.5 percent, if Dante could reach that three point percentage, he would become a formidable scorer with his quickness and finishing ability. Lets look at another young star coming into the league at a young age.

Tracy Mcgrady entered the league at 18, he played 64 games with 17 as a starter, averaged 18.4 minutes per, shot 45 percent from two, 34 percent from three, and scored 7.0 points per game. By age 19 and his second year, McGrady played 49 games with 2 as a starter, averaged 22.6 minutes, shot 43 percent from two, 22 percent from 3, and scored 9.3 points per game. By year three, and age 20, McGrady had it rolling and was averaging 31 minutes per, and starting 34 out of 79 games. He averaged 45 percent from two, 28 percent from three and scored a total of 15.4 pts per game.

Some have compared Dante to Penny Hardaway although when Penny first entered the NBA, he was 22 years old. He played 82 games as a rookie and averaged 16 pts per game, 5.4 rebounds and 6.6 assists. Penny shot 46 percent from two and 27 percent from three. Clearly, Jazz fans would take that from Dante, except for the low three point percentage, a few years into his NBA career.

Some thoughts looking at Kobe and McGrady coming into the league at such a young age, they played primarily backup roles. It was interesting to see that they were both used more off the bench in their second years in the league than in their first according to their stats. Both players three point field goal percentage dropped at some point after their first year in the league and both struggled to stay healthy averaging around only 50 games a season within three years of entering the league. Those are reasonable injury expectations for Dante as well going forward. The NBA is a physical league and Dante is a young guy who may struggle to play 82 games during his first couple of seasons.

Is Dante better prepared than Kobe and McGrady to play in the NBA? Some rabid Jazz fans, could make the case that Dante, who is a little older, who was developed in a national program, who is involved with Red Bull, and who has been training for a number of months to get stronger, is better prepared coming into the NBA than Kobe and McGrady. I'm not sure that is the case for someone who hasn't played a lot of 5 on 5 recently. However, listening to Dante speak, leads fans to believe he is mature enough to handle what is about to come his way.

Well if Kobe and McGrady have taught us anything, expect Dante to come off the bench, average around 15-20 minutes a game, shoot in the low 40's from two, the twenties from three and average around 7-9 points per game. Anything more than that would be a bonus. Some games he will look great, others he will look terrible and surely he will provide enough highlight reel plays to make fans believe he is better than he actually is at this stage of his career. Here is hoping Dante comes in and puts up second year/19 year old numbers comparable to Kobe and McGrady instead of rookie numbers. That would almost make Jazz fans forget the Corbin experiment for the past three years. Almost.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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