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The Downbeat: A ‘more assured’ Dante Exum has

The younger Aussie is poised for a solid season.

Sydney Kings v Utah Jazz Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

With two preseason games under our belts, fans now know exactly what this Utah Jazz team is made of and know exactly what to expect in the upcoming season.

Kidding aside, there are some things to be gleaned from preseason. And we have all been anxiously waiting to see the whole team since we saw Dante Exum and Donovan Mitchell tear it up in Summer League.

Speaking of Exum, Roy Ward wrote a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald about the newest model of the Australian point guard, complete with confidence.

“The Jazz have yet to face a full NBA side following preseason wins over the Sydney Kings and Maccabi Haifa but Exum has looked more assured in both games...

“Against Haifa he drove the hoop, performed a spin move and dunked with two hands, showing local fans a move they had never seen from him previously.”

Both fans and coaches have raved about the potential of Dante Exum. His combination of size and speed put him in an elite tier of NBA talents. But confidence (and injuries) has held Exum back thus far. With more confidence and an increased role on the team, the Jazz might be able to get their money’s worth for the #5 pick they spent on him.

In that same Sydney Morning Herald piece, Quin Snyder was quoted at length about how Exum can use a variety of speeds to break down opponents.

“At this point we have encouraged him to attack and use his speed but there are also opportunities to change speeds.

“First he has to turn it on and he has been doing that and the next step is harder, it is being able to use your speed selectively in situations and let the game slow down.

“That is what is happening with him right now, he is picking his pots and making better reads.”

Exum has show he can do that in the past, such as this play where he blew past the speedy Ty Lawson with a sudden speed change.

In light of the renewed hype over Exum, Ricky Rubio’s struggles in the preseason have fans concerned. But the Jazz coaching staff isn’t worried about less-than-stellar performances in the preseason per Jody Genessy.

“Snyder isn’t the type to freak out over one bad performance — or a good one — so it’s not really surprising that he didn’t seem fazed by Rubio’s scoring woes in the team’s 108-84 win over the Syndey Kings in an international friendly. Rubio only finished with three points, all from the free-throw line.

“‘He played so hard defensively. It really set a tone,’ Snyder said. ‘And I think his development over the course of the season is really what I want him to focus on, not to think in the short term if he had a bad game or a couple of bad games or a bad month.’”

Even after an 0-3 and six turnover game (in just 15 minutes) likely isn’t going to give the coaches sleeping problems. A veteran like Rubio will likely be able to figure things out and learn Utah’s system. Hopefully, he’ll get into form quicker rather than later.

Worried about the future of the Utah Jazz? Fear not.

Throw in the young punks Exum and Mitchell and the Jazz are not only young, but unlike recent years, they are a playoff-caliber team. How can you not be excited about this team?

Also, Rudy Gobert is a mannequin, can’t get enough of it.