Realistic Expectations for Dante Exum’s Rookie Season with Utah Jazz

If you are a Utah Jazz fan and panicking about Dante Exum, then please stop now.

It’s way too early to abort the mission.

There’s no doubt about it—Exum is playing at a low level. He’s a young kid who was selected with the No. 5 pick in the NBA draft, but doesn’t look anything like a top-level draft pick. All signs are pointing to a scary feeling in regard to Exum, however, we have to remember his age, talent level and the amount of time remaining before he’ll need to be great.

There’s going to be more than enough bumps to go around during his rookie season, but it’s all part of the process.

Let’s take a look at why the fear of failure is premature, and why he’ll end up in a much better position than he’s currently at.

 

Age

Getting drafted into the NBA at 18 years old has to be intimidating. Not only has the body not matured, but that kind of timing means the amount of game experience for someone that age is relatively low.

Sean Deveney of sportingnews.com interviewed an Eastern Conference scout who was on hand for the FIBA basketball tournament, and asked him about Exum and if he had any doubts about his future. Here’s what the scout had to say:

He’s not ready for the NBA, that is for sure. But a lot of guys are not ready for the NBA and they have got to learn on the fly. He is no different. But he is not going to jump into the league and all of a sudden average 20 points a game. There’s just no way.

He is really, really good in the pick-and-roll. He knows how to take the pick and emerge with his head up and he sees the whole floor. He will get better with his decision-making as time goes on and he gets experience, but that ability to come off the pick like that, you know being able to see and process everything immediately with your head up, that is something you can’t teach.

At first glance it looks as though Exum is being talked about as a player who has all the skills necessary to be a great player, but lacks all the experience.

He only turned 19 years old this summer and will be starting his rookie season while most other kids his age will be starting their Freshmen year of college. Achieving success at the NBA level is tough to come by period.

It’s going to be even harder for Exum during his rookie season, though. He’ll be playing against guys who already have the confidence necessary to have big nights, on top of besting him in almost every physical category.

Again, don’t freak out, yet.

Exum might not currently be where fans hoped he would, but his age is clearly a reason to hold off most concern over the subject.

He’s still only a kid.

 

Talent

Has Dante Exum been playing bad basketball lately? Absolutely. Has any of it had to do with how talented he is as a player?

Not one bit.

It’s strictly a confidence issue. Averaging 7.2 points, 2.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game during the NBA summer league was a mediocre showing at best. His mentality clearly altered his entire game as he only shot the ball 7.8 times in each contest.

If that wasn’t bad enough, FIBA basketball decided to roll around.

Exum managed to lower his numbers to 2.7 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists. There’s no reason why he couldn’t average point totals in the teens if we were going strictly based off a bigger role, his athleticism and talent, however, that’s not how the game is played. Being confident that you’re able to dominate your competition is just as important as being good enough to actually do it.

Having the correct mentality to become an elite player is significantly easier to teach than the talent associated with being a special member in the game of basketball.

Exum has all the skills in the world, which puts us far from panic time.

 

Time

Being patient is one of the hardest things for any fan to do. It’s so difficult because wanting instant success is a natural feeling.

Still though, Utah will have every opportunity to grow as both individuals and a team. The Jazz have the NBA’s youngest team with an average age of 23.5. This will only lead toward improvement and a better sense of team unity.

Exum will be one of the driving factors in this process.

Being worried about how he’s currently playing makes a lot of sense. He’s performed incredibly poorly for someone touted as a potential No. 1 pick, and he doesn’t look like he’ll have too much of an impact on the 2014-15 season.

Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter, though. It’s all about if he’ll be able to get to where his potential suggests he could reach.

Society still seems to be working on time travel and developing a fast-forward button, so it’s up to us to wait and see how it all plays out.

Exum is young and has more than enough talent to turn into an All Star-caliber player capable of being one of Utah’s leaders.

It just won’t take place during his rookie season.

Exum doesn’t have the confidence or physique to be a top performer on a nightly basis. He’ll have to take his bruises along with most other rookies. It’s going to be a cause for concern as his improvements will come at a slow rate, but he’s good enough to make people laugh for ever doubting him.

If he’s able to correctly develop during what seems like a lifetime of an NBA career ahead of him, then he’ll likely turn into exactly who fans hoped the Jazz drafted.

Something that would be great to see.

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Utah Jazz: Predicting Player Performances For ’14-15

  Looking ahead at the 2014-15 NBA season for the Utah Jazz, the team motto should be “nowhere to go but up.” The Utah Jazz franchise is smack in the middle of a massive draft-based rebuilding project that has landed them an entire starting roster of talented lottery picks including Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec […]
Utah Jazz: Predicting Player Performances For ’14-15 – Hoops Habit – Hoops Habit – Analysis, Opinion and Stats All About The NBA

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Jazz sign free agent F Jack Cooley (Yahoo Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz have signed free agent Jack Cooley.

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Jazz Teammate Tweets Picture of Rookie Dante Exum Sleeping with Stuffed Animal

Utah Jazz rookie Dante Exum is 19 years old, but it looks like he still enjoys the comfort of sleeping with a stuffed animal.

Jazz teammate Rodney Hood was wise enough to snap a picture of Exum sleeping with his giant teddy bear and kind enough to share it with the world. That’s just some good fun between teammates.

[Rodney Hood, h/t Fox Sports]

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Early Win-Loss Predictions for Utah Jazz Next Season

The Utah Jazz are looking to finally turn the corner and have a better win-loss record during the 2014-15 season after looking both awful and boring for the majority of last year.

Being one of the NBA‘s worst teams was a result of having a young squad with a lack of a solid foundation. It felt like players were unsure of where they stood on the roster, and the franchise in general had an overall lack of direction.

The Jazz were going to be bad, but what were they going to do in order to fix the problems and become a better team?

Well, the good news is that they look to be finding some of those answers.

It appears as though the organization has a direction and is working hard on reaching its ceiling. Utah has some of the best fans in the league. They are always filling up the arena regardless of how well the team does, and it’s about time they get rewarded for it.

Next year will certainly be a better season, but how much better? Here’s a look at Utah’s win-loss prediction heading into the upcoming year.

 

Backcourt

If Utah is going to have any success during the 2014-15 season, then the Jazz are going to need exceptional play out of their guards.

The three key players will be Trey Burke, Alec Burks and Dante Exum.

Burke and Exum will need to be able to do a number of different tasks—one of which will be to play alongside each other in an efficient matter. Each needs to be able to start the offense and run at shooting guard in whatever order presents itself.

The next task is for one to be able to fill in for the other at any given time. If Exum starts the season off the bench, then he’ll have to be able to step up and take over for Burke when the time comes.

Burks will have the incredibly difficult job of being the No. 1 scorer off the bench. The tough part comes from the amount of pressure being put on the sixth man to perform on a nightly basis.

Guard play is key. Utah’s backcourt will need to consistently take care of the ball and play at a high level if the Jazz want to surprise fans and win a good chunk of games.

 

Frontcourt

Look around the NBA and try to find a team with a better group of young talent among its frontcourt than the Utah Jazz.

Are you still looking?

Players such as Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are among some of the most talented young players in the entire league.

Kanter and Favors could be incredibly dominant at the power forward and center positions if they can figure out how to play with one another at the same time. Stepping onto the court next to each other has always seemed to hold one or the other back from hitting his true potential. Still though, the talent is clear as air; it just needs to come to fruition on a more consistent basis.

Averaging over 16 points, five rebounds and five assists during the course of an 82-game season proves how good a player someone is. It’s also exactly what Hayward was able to do last year.

His next move will be to prove that he can be the guy worthy of his $63 million contract. That will require more of an initiative on the offensive end of the floor and being the go-to guy, along with stepping up and guarding the opposing team’s best player on a nightly basis.

He’s got the talent to be that kind of player; it’s time for him to make it happen, though.

Add in the long-ball threat of Rodney Hood along with a developing Rudy Gobert, and we continue to see how youth and potential are heavily in Utah’s favor.

 

Coach

Tyrone Corbin just wasn’t the right man to lead Utah over the past three-and-a-half seasons. It never looked as if he wasn’t trying, but there was a certain passion that was missing.

The 2014-15 season will give us a look at Quin Snyder and if he can do a better job.

Corbin and Snyder have a different level of skill when it comes to player development. Corbin only played people when he felt they were ready. There were times when people like Burks never saw the floor strictly because Corbin didn’t feel like he had the game to compete.

Snyder does and will likely do his job a little differently.

The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Aaron Falk interviewed Snyder and heard a bit about how he plans on developing players. Here’s what Utah’s new coach had to say:

As an old college coach, that was something that you were really focused on. It’s become kind of something that everybody talks about, everybody wants to do. I think a couple things that are key is your staff has to be really, really good. You have to be teachers. You have to enjoy seeing guys improve. We’re awfully young. You’re going to see a lot of guys grow. Hopefully some will grow pretty fast. It’s a challenge, but it can be really rewarding as well when you see people get better.

It’s important to hear Snyder say that one of his staff’s keys will be to develop talent. The only negative part about making sure a player’s potential gets hit is that it means there has to be room for growth.

And there’s more than enough growth to go around with the Jazz.

Snyder will certainly help move the team in the right direction, but it will have to take some time.

It won’t all happen during the upcoming season.

 

Northwest Division

It’s difficult to say that there’s truly an easy division in the Western Conference. Luckily, Utah is a member of the least difficult.

Apart from the Jazz, the Northwest Division consists of the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers.

It’s definitely difficult but not nearly as bad as the Southwest Division, where four of the five teams made the playoffs last season.

Utah won’t be waiting around to start the season off with a challenge. It opens the year with playing Portland in the first two games of the season. The crazy part is that the Jazz will end up seeing the Trail Blazers four more times before the 82 games come to an end.

Combine those games with 14 other ones against the rest of the division, and there is some opportunity for wins.

Minnesota is in complete rebuilding mode, and Denver is one of those teams who will beat you by 10 points, only to lose by 25 the next night. Stealing a couple games from Portland and Oklahoma City will be difficult, but there’s definitely an opportunity for three or four wins between the two squads.

 

Western Conference

It’s no surprise that the teams in the Western Conference are much more talented than those in the East. Franchises in the Eastern Conference won a total of 556 games during the 2013-14 season.

The West won 674.

If 118 more victories isn’t proof enough, then it’s unclear as to what is. Utah only plays 30 of its 82 games against teams in the opposite conference, leaving it with 52 very difficult battles.

More athleticism among all positions should set the Jazz up for a stronger season. Unfortunately, their conference schedule does nothing toward leading to more wins.

 

Final Regular-Season Record/Standing

The Jazz can go in one of two directions. They can overachieve and surprise some people by winning games they weren’t expected to, or they can end up as exactly who they’re expected to be.

There are sure to be a number of cuts and changes to the final roster, but Utah currently has the youngest roster in the NBA. An average age of 23.4 is ridiculously young and potentially the leading factor toward another difficult year.

Could the Jazz compete for the playoffs this season? It’s highly unlikely. They would need a turnaround similar to the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns to make that happen.

Still though, seeing them consistently battle should become a regular sight.

Utah basketball has been boring for the past couple years. There’s no reason not to be blunt about it. A more athletic roster and first-year NBA coach should bring some life back into the franchise and be significantly more fun to watch.

 

Best-Case Record: 37-45

Expected Record: 25-57

Best-Case Western Conference Standing: No. 10

Expected Western Conference Standing: No. 14

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Gordon Hayward Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Jazz Guard

The Phoenix Suns have a lot of money to burn this offseason, and they may be using a chunk to try and sign Gordon Hayward.

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News reported that the Suns will likely offer the 24-year-old an offer sheet worth the maximum allowed:

The 6-foot-8 restricted free agent is expected to receive a significant contract offer, possibly upwards to a max deal, from the Phoenix Suns this coming week, according to sources.

Boston and Charlotte are two other teams whom the Jazz anticipate could throw large offers at Hayward.

The problem for Phoenix is that Hayward is a restricted free agent. Even if the Suns throw a max deal at him, the Utah Jazz have the chance to match it. According to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, they almost certainly would:

Sources told The Salt Lake Tribune that the Jazz will tier the available free agents, have conversations and see where there is a common interest. But at the top of the priority list is Hayward, the best all-around player on the team. While the former Butler star will have significant interest on the market, (general manager Dennis) Lindsey has said for two months that the Jazz plan to match whatever offer comes his way.

“We anticipate Gordon being a part of our franchise for a long time,” Lindsey said in the moments following last week’s NBA Draft.

Lindsey also spoke about how he feels Hayward will thrive under new head coach Quin Snyder, per Genessy:

Many will argue that the ninth overall pick in 2010 isn’t worthy of a max contract. He had a career year in 2013-14, but that only translated to 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.

Basketball-Reference.com indicates his player efficiency rating (PER) was 16.2, which actually represented a slight drop from his 16.8 in 2012-13.

Chris Towers of CBSSports.com thinks that signing Hayward to a max deal—while still a bit extreme—might be a sounder decision than matching whatever price tags Klay Thompson and Lance Stephenson will carry:

Hayward is still pretty young, so there’s the chance that this past season was only a taste of what is to come.

If that’s the case, then giving him the max wouldn’t be all that far off from what his value will beespecially when compared to what other players with his kind of numbers are making.

The Jazz have been putting together a young core of talent and added to that in the draft with Dante Exum and Rodney Hood.

Keeping Hayward around would help secure their future a little more, so paying him a little bit more than they’d like would be worth it if it furthered the team’s progress.

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West grades: Jazz, Lakers make big splashes

The Lakers and Jazz put in great efforts. Who didn’t fare as well in the draft?

      
 

 

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Jazz extend qualifying offer to Gordon Hayward (Yahoo Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz have extended a qualifying offer to Gordon Hayward, making him a restricted free agent.

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New Jazz coach Quin Snyder completes staff (Yahoo Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — New Jazz head coach Quin Snyder has completed his staff.

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Utah Jazz Rumors: Buying or Selling Gossip Ahead of 2014 NBA Draft

The Utah Jazz hold the No. 5 and No. 23 overall picks in the 2014 NBA draft, and rumors have become a typhoon—they are no longer merely swirling.

Whether it be which player the Jazz are likely to choose or Utah shipping selections elsewhere, validity of the news is constantly questioned.

And so, the multimillion-dollar question: Are we buying or selling the latest gossip?

Draft day is approaching quickly, and Bleacher Report is here to make sense of the recent buzz surrounding Utah’s first-round selections.

 

Note: All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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