NBA Draft 2014: First Round Pick #5 -- Dante Exum
The NBA Draft is tonight and the Utah Jazz are starting June 26th with three picks: #5, #23, and #35.
UPDATE (7:20pm MT): Quotes from Dante Exum's first press conference, via AllThatAmar:
MODERATOR: Dante, if you could just start with opening statements, feelings about being drafted by Utah.
EXUM: You know, it's an unbelievable experience. Words can't explain. It's just great. I had a chance to talk to the coach and how he's going to use me and how I git into the system. So it's just, I can't wait to get to Utah tomorrow and start getting to work.
Q: Dante, what was the situation in terms of whether you were going to work out with Utah? Why did that not happen?
EXUM: Looking at the draft and where I was placed, me and my agent thought that I wouldn't get down to 5, but anything happens in the draft, and you see I'm lucky enough that Utah believed in me and picked me up at 5.
Q: And your thoughts about you and Trey Burke are both point guards. What are your thoughts about that?
EXUM: The Australian team, Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova, and I'm in that system, and those are both point guards. So you work around it. I think I already spoke to [Burke], and he's excited to have me, and I'm excited to be there. I know we're both going to give up something a little so everyone's happy.
Q (asked by Amar): Dante, congratulations and welcome to Utah. Last year the Utah Jazz had one of the worst offenses in the league. What can you give the Jazz fans to cheer about?
EXUM: They got a new coach now, so I'm sure it's going to be a different system. I like to play up and down and that, kind of find my guys in transition. I think the coach being a point guard, he's going to know how to utilize me and Trey. So that's what I mean to do.
Q: Dante, congratulations. How much have to seen the Utah Jazz play over the last year or so? And two, in your limited conversations with the franchise, what's impressed you most about the direction they're headed in?
EXUM: I haven't seen a lot of Utah. Over in Australia, that's not one of the teams that play. We only get three games a week. So I'm excited to learn what their culture is about and the rich history they've had. What was the last question?
Q: What's impressed you so far in the conversations you've had about the direction they're heading in.
EXUM: They brought in a new coach who's a point guard. So that's exciting for me and just to be able to put myself in a situation where I'm able to learn and grow as a play and point guard. So I think that's the most exciting thing.
Q: Dante, so the Jazz went into this process pretty clear they wanted to get a franchise player and an All-Star out of this pick. Is that you? If so, can you talk a little bit about why that's in your future.
EXUM: That's the future. You never know what's going to happen in the future. I take it one day at a time. I'm trying to do what I can now so I can get to that caliber. There's been many players that have been projected and never got to that. But I'm just going to work hard every day and see what happens.
Q: How excited are you to move past this process now and play five-on-five again and introduce yourself to the NBA?
EXUM: It has been a long process. I played a bit of five-on-five but not enough. Just to know where I'm going to be living is just a huge relief. I can't wait for Summer League, and I can't wait for the season to start.
Q: Talk about coming to a new country and being able to adjust to the culture and everything and the language -- well, not language, the culture and just how things are done in the professional level in America. Talk about your learning curve.
EXUM: I've been here for four or five months, and Australia's very similar to the U.S., so I don't think coming over here is going to be too much of a cultural difference. It is going to be a learning experience heading into the professional world. I've had a bit of practice with the AAS and learning how to be a professional, but you never know until you get there. I'm just looking forward to clinging on to someone that knows the ropes already and learning off them and what they've done to be successful and stay in the NBA.
Also, here's a video of Dante going through a mental and physical evaluation with the Red Bull High Performance team:
The Utah Jazz selected Dante Exum with the 5th pick of the draft. Utah stayed at the slot they were allotted on the draft lottery night and the front office felt he was the best player left on the board after Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, and Aaron Gordon were selected.
Playing high school ball in Australia, Exum made a name for himself with his elite size and quickness at the point guard spot. It will be interesting to see just how the Jazz use Exum as he can probably play either guard position. This will give the Utah Jazz an opportunity to throw out some creative lineups with Exum, Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke, and Alec Burks.
Personally, I think Head coach Quin Snyder is best going to be able to use Exum in a variety of roles. Snyder could start Exum at shooting guard, or he could play him as a backup point guard and let him learn the role his first season. The Jazz could also entertain trade offers for either Burke or Burks. This is a bit of a leap of faith for the Jazz to invest in Exum since he has never competed against elite talent, but if he can put his quickness and size to good use and especially learn to shoot, he could be one of the best players in this draft. GM Dennis Lindsey will next look to find a shooter, a small forward, a foreign prospect, or a trade for a veteran player with his remaining picks.
Welcome to America, Dante Exum. You're going to love Utah.