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The Downbeat #1956: The Utah Jazz Need Dante Exum

Remember that the Utah Jazz were historically good with Dante Exum as the starter. Don't ever forget that.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Much has been said about the Utah Jazz this offseason.  The hype train is building up steam.  From experts to pundits to humble "boggers" like ourselves, they (and we) believe that this year's Utah Jazz team is poised to be one of the most talented Utah Jazz teams in recent memory and capable of big things if they hit their potential.  Part of that potential is Dante Exum.  Back in 2015, I wrote a story in which I said this:

Yet, after the Utah Jazz traded away Enes Kanter, in other words Post All-Star Break, they had a defensive rating of 94.8 points per 100 possessions. The next closest in that time was the Memphis Grizzlies at 99.4.

To put that in perspective there have only been 11, count it, ELEVEN TEAMS in NBA history that have had a Defensive Rating of 95 or less. The most recent was the San Antonio Spurs of 2003-2004. A team that I would daresay the Jazz should try to emulate.

That defensive improvement was two fold. First was the substation of Dante Exum into the lineup for Trey Burkes.  Then was the rise of Rudy Gobert.  Those two are not mutually exclusive nor are they mutually dependent.  They are both defensive monsters.  It's easy to point at Dante Exum's offensive struggles and say, "Why should we trust a player who can't shoot?"  Fair point.  But his sample size is from a season in which he was one of the youngest players in the league at age 19.  Starting.  When Dante Exum started the Utah Jazz were 24-17, 7 games over .500.  So any argument that starts with "The Utah Jazz can't win games if Dante Exum starts ... " needs to be thrown out the window.  The Utah Jazz were a historic defensive wrecking ball through the NBA with Dante Exum and Rudy Gobert.  They can win games and will.

Rudy Gobert is improving and improving fast.  He's hitting the long jumper.  This kid is so much fun to watch.  The amount of work he puts in to become better is just crazy.  His worth ethic is Millsapian.  Every year he comes back better than the previous, not because of the natural talent (which he has in spades), but because he WORKS for it.

Some excited news here at, Vox Media has announced that will be entering the world of radio.

SB Nation, Vox Media Inc.'s online site for sports fans, is expanding into radio through a partnership with Gow Media LLC, which is ditching its Yahoo Sports Radio brand.

The new SB Nation Radio will create audio programming that will be available at and go out to 500 terrestrial and satellite stations affiliated with Gow, the companies said Monday in a statement. Content also will be carried on Sirius XM Holdings Inc. and other platforms, they said.

"It's a terrific opportunity to grow our brand and awareness of our brand via radio and via this relationship," said Kevin Lockland, vice president of editorial operations at SB Nation. The company hopes to "gain additional exposure for a lot of the talented national and team-specific voices that we have across the SB Nation network."

The companies will collaborate on the content, which will include podcasts and on-air show formats, according to the statement. SB Nation Radio will feature current SB Nation talent including Spencer Hall, Paul Flannery, Dan Rubenstein, Ariel Helwani and Thomas George, along with experts from team-specific sites.

So keep an eye out for the future.  You might have to withstand Amar and I speaking about the Utah Jazz with terrible pop culture references from the 90s.  I'm so sorry.

The Utah Jazz said that Joel Bolomboy showed "night and day" difference at the Utah Jazz Summer League.  I'm personally rooting for the guy.  I hope he makes it onto the opening day roster.  Jody Gennesy has the story.

Jazz assistant Mike Wells was impressed with the transformation Bolomboy made in a relatively short amount of time.

"Night and day. I thought that he came in with a lot of energy, not sure what to do and you just kept seeing somebody that was settling into the game," Wells said. "As the minutes went, he became more and more comfortable, figured out where he could get his shot a little bit. He didn't get stuck in tight quarters with multiple bodies around him. He figured out how to play a little bit in kind of an NBA game."

Bolomboy agreed with his coach.

"Each day I felt like I got more comfortable. I got better," Bolomboy said. "I just think coming into this I didn't know what to expect and the game was really fast for me at first. I just have to slow myself down. I like to play fast and up-tempo. It just seemed like I couldn't slow myself down.

Read the rest here.

Remember last summer when Dante Exum had an amazing summer league game?  Remember the good times.  Don't fall for the fear.