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Dante Exum -- The National Star?: The Downbeat #1465

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, OI, OI OI!

No shaving was required for today's photo shoot.
No shaving was required for today's photo shoot.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get to media day quotes, let's all revel in the fact that we have a rookie who is hyped nationally and internationally.

In addition, Dante Exum is answering questions like a seasoned vet. He's so veteran savvy that he doesn't know the new City Creek Mall exists.

Exum did fail at one question though.

C'mon, Exum. This is Gordon Hayward's team now. Olive Garden. Olive Garden. Rookie mistake. Gordon, get this guy an all you can eat pasta card. That will help him see the light.

This is probably the best thing I've heard about Exum's game. We've heard how fast he is and how athletic he is, but we tend to forget that he's a point guard first, shooting guard in progress.

I can say from his Summer League playing that he anticipates where his teammates are going to be and that caught a lot of potential NBA players off guard. His teammates better be looking for the ball when it's in Exum's hands because if they're open they'll be receiving a pass. And it's going to be highlight worthy.

While Dante Exum runs like a gazelle he also is as lean as a gazelle. That is not lost on Dante. When asked what his biggest challenge in the NBA will be Dante responded the physicality of the league.

I think physicality. You know, to step up and play with grown men compared to what I've been used to...I got a quick first step, and getting into the paint and trying to finish over guys, I think, and play with contact. So I think that's gonna be the main thing. I'm gonna have to try and adjust as quick as possible to it.


I've talked to Amar about this and he asked me what was one thing Dante should work on this year. Instead of answering his jump shot or finishing ability, I just said getting comfortable in the league. There's so much for him to take in as a young teenager. Just letting him settle in will be the biggest improvement he can make. I think we'll see big things from Exum in the beginning of the year then he'll hit a huge wall in December. By about February after the all-star break, I think that's when you'll see the light go on for Exum. While he may not win Rookie of the Year, he's going to be a highlight machine and next year, he'll take a Paul George-ian leap in production and ability.

Dante was asked how he did at the World Cup. His response sounds like he wanted to play more.

Yeah, the Worlds was a bit up and down for me. You know, I didn't get as many minutes as I wan-would've liked to, but you know, it's all about a learning experience for me, and you know, [Australian national team head coach] Andrej [Lemanis] made that clear with me. And so, I had a good experience with it, in learning how to be professional in that kind of environment.


While I do believe he needed to play more I think it was a good opportunity for Dante to learn about having to pay his dues. With Utah, he's going to be thrown at a lot of situations that he's probably not going to be on the winning side of. That's good. That's how you learn. You learn more from failures than successes. But being able to see it from afar and watch his teammates and how they carried themselves at the FIBA tournament helped tremendously. It sounds like it was communicated to Exum that he needed to wait his turn. The Olympics hopefully will be a whole different ball game for the Aussies.

As you can imagine not playing can have a huge effect on your confidence. Here's what Exum had to say about that.

I think so. You know, a lot of people have been kinda putting me down. ‘Cause I'm only 19 years old, and I know it's gonna be a patience thing, but I know both me and Rodney, we're competitors, and we wanna be the best player we can right now. And we're, so, we're coming in everyday and trying to get better so when it comes to the opening night, that we're ready. And it's not about trying to be patient, so.


To quote the Kanter, they're young and hungry. I think the lack of experience can sometime be a strength because the cynicism of failure has not set in yet. There'll be growing pains but I think Quin Snyder is the right person to help Dante. He seems like a cerebral character and he's going to be taken care of in Quin's guard-centric system.