Freelance Friday: 3 Positives and Negatives of Dante Exum’s Play in FIBA Warmups

August 29th, 2014 | by Freelance Friday


Editor’s note: This is one of our Freelance Friday posts, a chance for users from around the Jazz community to contribute to Salt City Hoops. This post was written by Brad Tilley. Brad (@bradjtilley) is a devoted Jazz fan who can’t watch a game without keeping player and team stats in his head. He is also an Analytics Consultant who lives in Bountiful with his wife and two-year old daughter.

Hi, my name is Brad Tilley and… I am addicted to watching Dante Exum play basketball. You can chalk it up to the fact that he gives me a reinvigorated hope that the Jazz might have drafted a player that can help lift them back into competitive relevancy in the coming years.

Most recently, I have fed my addiction by watching his national team exhibition games leading up to the FIBA World Cup this weekend. Sadly, only 3 of the Australian national team games could be viewed on replay. I did an analytical breakdown of those three games, which pitted the Aussies against Finland, Lithuania and the Philippines. Here is my analysis:

The Positives

  • Currently, Dante has two great natural skills. The first is his court vision and passing, which is extremely fun to watch. In the 3 games, he averaged 5.3 assists/game in just over 19 MPG. Adjusted for playing 30 minutes a game (my estimate for his playing time this year), that equates to 8.1 assists/30 minutes. Those  stats are even more impressive given that  he has been a co-point guard with Matthew Dellavedova on the national team; a similar situation as this upcoming season may hold! Oh, and he averaged about 3 hockey assists/30 minutes as well. His court awareness at his age is stunning.
  • Dante’s second natural skill is his speed. Although he isn’t aggressively looking for his shot at this point in his development, he drew 3 fouls/30 minutes on his dribble-drives. Most of these came when he was blowing by his defender on the fast break or in the half-court. He did get lost on defense a few times, but for the most part he used his speed and quickness well while defending on the perimeter.
  • As you can see from the shot chart below, Exum takes what are typically thought of as highly-efficient shots. He took one mid-range jumper over the three games, and the other 23 shots were either 3-pointers or within 8 feet of the basket. This tendency is definitely in line with the desirable shots of the new offense that Quin Snyder is instituting.
Dante Exum's shooting in the 3-game sample.

Dante Exum’s shooting in the 3-game sample.

The Negatives

  • Those corner-threes. The sad part: all of those 7 corner threes were  open looks. With Trey and Dante sharing the point guard duties, when Trey is running the pick and roll, Dante will most likely be parked in the corner. He is still young, so I’m hoping he could develop a serviceable 3-point shot a la Kawhi Leonard, who was not a shooter at all at San Diego State.
  • Dante shot a dismal 5 free throws over his 9 exhibition games;and he only made one of those. Yikes. From the shot chart (and personally watching him) you can tell that he gets to the rack, he’s just not to the point of seeking contact at the rim yet. Instead, he’s either going in uncontested or most likely dishing the ball off. He did have one sick drive and floater in Jonas Valanciunas’ face though.
  • Exum’s playmaking ability was consistent, but his shooting was not. Against sub-par competition (i.e. Finland, the Philippines), he shot 51.5% from the field. In the three games against France and Lithuania, he only shot 27.3%. As we also saw in the summer league, Dante is going to have to adjust to the higher level of competition.



Freelance Friday

Freelance Friday

The post above is one of our Freelance Friday posts, giving those from the Jazz community as a whole a chance to contribute to Salt City Hoops.

  • Growing Pains: Bench Edition
    Dante Exum
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    Growing Pains: Bench Edition

    After an active NBA offseason, several different media outlets ranked the 30 teams’ starting units and benches. The Jazz...Read More


  1. IDJazzman says:

    I would have to say that I think Brad is spot on. Exum exciting qualities are his ability to distribute the ball and his speed. The scary side of Exum is his shooting, but his form actually looks good to me. I think the coaching staff of the Jazz will be able to make the tweaks he needs to get him on the road of being an effective shooter. If he learns how to put a soft touch on the ball and starts making them, he will take the Jazz to another level. Without that shooting touch, well that would be a huge disappointment. He absolutely must develop his shot, or he will be a partial bust.

  2. Mewko says:

    I love Dante, he has awareness, passing, instincs, and vision that are unteachable, and uses them great. Even better is that he is 6’6″, he will keep the defense on their heels whether he’s at shooting guard or point guard. Those skills and instincts will make it easy for him to transition into the latter part of his career, when he’s frankly not as athletic as he used to be.

    He has God-given athleticism, I predict he will blow past the defenders this year, it will be second units trying to guard him. He will be one of the better rebounding guards in the NBA when the time comes.

    Getting minutes, time under the coaching staff, and experience will eliminate most of his jitters, which we will see plenty his rookie year. Things like turnovers, dumb shots, footwork, and defensive letups will happen, but will go away with our coaching staff.

    If Dante can finish at the rim well, and fix his jumpshot, than he will be a bully like Russell Westbrook coming down the lane, an artist like Chris Paul’s amazing touches, and a pesky defender like Kyle Lowry. I’m excited to watch his improvement, I think he will be worth a max contract in 2018.

  3. John says:

    Nice write-up. One thing I’d add is when he was pushed to the bench in the later games of this pre-World Cup tour, he was generally playing in his preferred PG role as Dellavedova’s back-up. It’s a pity Patty Mills is injured, because Mills’ ability to play off the ball would have made for a pretty exciting Exum-Mills backcourt.

    His stats in these games were fairly ordinary, but there were a few instances where he missed some very makeable shots at the rim which I’m gonna chalk down to nerves/inexperience. His assist stats could have been better too if his teammates had finished more of the great looks he was getting them.

    As for weaknesses, aside from the obvious shooting woes, I’d say his ball-handling needs tightening, and also his jumping ability isn’t elite.

    The funny thing is, I remember watching him when he was younger and thinking his ball-handling was ok – still right-hand dominant but he looked comfortable switching to his left. He also from memory seemed more springy than he is now, finishing over defenders at the rim. The flip side is that back then he didn’t possess the decision-making, poise, vision and passing ability he does now.

    • Clint Johnson says:

      Astute additions of ball handling and lack of elevation, John. I have one more significant concern: strength. Everyone says he’ll naturally get stronger, which is true to a point. But the guards he most reminds me of, John Wall and Derrick Rose, were renowned for their strength at their position even as freshmen in college, which is a fair comparison to Exum. He’s far, far weaker than either were. Combine that with his lack of explosiveness, and I’m afraid finishing near the rim may always be a problem. If he doesn’t develop a great jump shot, that really limits his potential.

  4. Sara Kesler says:

    I am not a Jazz fan, but this is my old friend’s husband’s article, so I had to read it! I understood the content, which means Brad did a good job in his analysis. My editor’s eye found some spots that I would have written differently, grammatically speaking, but hey, this article is not about the English language, it’s about basketball. I would love to get a my hands on other freelance articles that are written, by anyone, before they are published so I can edit them.

  5. BigDiesel says:

    Dante is overrated. Jazz shoulda taken Big Julius but let the LakeShow snatch him up! Bit great analysis Big Tilley! I like it

  6. Johnnie P says:

    I think you overestimate the number of minutes Exum gets this season (30 min/game). He’s young and raw with LOTS of improvements to be made. I think his minutes will be much more limited until he’s ready to play at the NBA level. The numbers he’s putting up in World Cup indicate he’s not there yet. Jazz shoulda taken Marcus Smart. Far more NBA ready.

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