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You’ve read this before, Dante Exum is close to returning

It feels like we’ve written this before ... actually we have.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s run it back again. Dante Exum is coming back. He was cleared for practice and recently practiced with the G-League Salt Lake City Stars. He is listed as probable for the OKC Thunder game tomorrow. We can almost copy and paste this. Actually, we will copy and paste this.

It has been six weeks since Dante Exum went down with an ankle injury caused by stepping on a teammate’s foot coming off of a screen. Dante Exum has been seen practicing with the team and Utah most likely wants to make sure his return has the most favorable conditions for a successful re-launch. Returning on the road home against a formidable OKC Thunder team probably isn’t the best game for Exum to return and find his rhythm again.

He could also let go of being a point guard. And he may already be doing that, as evidenced by some of his comments about playing the 3 on media day.

Instead of exclusively being a point guard, Exum can be a part of a position-less platoon that makes the Jazz more dangerous on both ends. When Quin Snyder deploys lineups including some combination of Exum, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Alec Burks and Grayson Allen, Utah will be able switch all over the perimeter on defense and attack from all over the floor on the other end.

Exum came into the league with tons of promise. The next Anfernee Hardaway. Another shot at Shaun Livingston. And while some people may have lost faith over the first four years, his recasting as a prototypical position-less player could reignite the flame.

To begin the year Exum looked to be permanently locked into Quin Snyder’s doghouse again. Exum had 5 games playing less than ten minutes. A few of those games were because of garbage time, but there were a few that Exum had as quick a leash as he’s ever had.

And then something changed against the Miami Heat on December 12th. Exum was a +27 for the game scoring 14 points and shooting 2⁄3 from 3. Whatever happened, something seemed to click. From that point on his level of play improved dramatically with Exum shooting 48% from the field and 38% from three. His minutes went up to 18 per game and it looked like he might be finally turning that corner that we’ve all waited for.

Here we are now at the present with time but a flat circle when it comes to Dante Exum taking the proverbial leap in his development. There are flashes, asterisks, set-backs, baby steps, but still the Utah Jazz are left scratching the surface on what seems to be the overflowing potential of the 5th pick of 2014 NBA Draft.

Buuuuut now ... now there are expectations.

Dante Exum has a 3 year / $33 million dollar contract. He’s no longer given the type of leash as a rookie or young player, he’s now being paid as a veteran. While he is only been able to legally buy alcohol for a little over two years, he is going to be expected to pool his talents together so that they finally bear the resemblance of a final product. Dennis Lindsey has preached patience with Dante Exum, and here, four years later, the patience has hit the precipice.

Fans on Exum Island are hoping to be rescued, and the Utah Jazz are hoping to be vindicated for taking a big risk on a 19 year old international kid who had never played an ounce of professional or college ball before entering the NBA. Fans have come crawling back to Exum Island year after year after year after year. Some out there may have said it would be better if fans parted ways with Exum. But fans always say that, yet fans always come crawling back. They have been waiting for Exum this long, what’s another year?

As you can see, we have all been around this before. These are all the Dante Exum returning articles for just this season. The hope this time is Dante Exum is really ready. Before the injury Quin Snyder said that this time would be different. It appeared that Snyder had trust in the young point guard and didn’t believe that his recent play before the injury was a fluke.

Even if you’re not one of the Exum Island faithful, you have to hope it wasn’t. Why? Because the Jazz need an infusion of talent right now. They’ve been exposed in the last week. Teams know that beyond Donovan Mitchell there isn’t another big time playmaker. Dante Exum was showing that blazing speed and ability to get to the rim against anybody before turning his ankle. If he shows that same confidence, Utah might have the juice to get home court advantage and get past the 1st round. They just need extra depth and help.

Here’s hoping Dante Exum returns back to his prior form quickly.