Hall of Fame or Bust

I decided tonight that I would run through basketball reference's database to see if I could find any good comparisons for Dante Exum. Since Dante has little to no off-ball game right now I set part of my criteria as the player had to only play point guard. I didn't want any combo guards (sorry Wade, Ginobili, Hornacek, et al) and I didn't want any point forwards (sorry Lebron, Hayward, Bird, et al). The next criteria I wanted was that the player was 6'5" or taller i.e. tall point guards. The last criteria was that the player wasn't a bust. I set the non-bust level at 500 games played (roughly 7 70ish game seasons i.e. rookie and next contract without major injuries). This brings us to the good and the bad news all in one sentence:

The only players that fit both criteria (6'5" or taller, 500 games or more, and only played point guard) were Oscar Robertson, Pete Maravich, and Magic Johnson.

Why is this good? Well all these comps are Hall of Famers! Duh!

Why is this terribly bad? Well, all these comps are Hall of Famers! If his only comps are hall of famers then his chances of busting are really really really high. However, if he doesn't bust then he's likely a hall of famer himself (the good news part).

So our next question is, does Dante have anything in common with these hall of fame players? I can't speak on Robertson. I just don't know much about him. Dante definitely doesn't shoot like Maravich nor have I seen the tricks, flash, and flair of Maravich's game in Dante. That leaves us to Magic. Magic wasn't a good shooter, at least at range, but he was an exellent finisher. Magic also loved the fast break. Dante definitely loves the fastbreak, and seems to be a good finisher so far.

Magic also got to the line a ton. FIBA footage seemse to support this with Dante, but so far we haven't seen that so much in summer league.

Magic was an awesome rebounder. Dante seems to be a good rebounder, but nothing crazy like Magic.

So, what does this mean? My conclusion is that we dang well better be hoping that either a) he develops enough of his attributes further that he becomes a hall of famer (perhaps better 3pt shooting or rebounding), b) he develops off ball skills and can thus be compared to the many combo guards out there that have had successful careers, or c) we luck out and win the lottery next year.


It's been pointed out that Penny Hardaway also fits the mold of 1) only being a point guard, 2) being 6'5" or taller, and 3) playing over 500 games.

Penny Hardaway is an interesting comp because he would have easily made the hall of fame except that he got injured in 1996 and was never the same player afterwards. This is actually one of the things that could really make Exum a bust. Exum could be categorized as a freak athlete, and we've seen how that's worked out for Rose and Westbrook. If I was one of the Jazz brass I would be putting special medical care and focus on Exum to make sure that he becomes the pre-96 Hardaway and not the post-96 Hardaway.

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