Dante Exum Belongs on Same Level as Star 2014 NBA Draft Prospects

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterNovember 20, 2013

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 20: Dante Exum #7 of the World Select Team shoots a three pointer against USA Junior Select Team during the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit game on April 20, 2013 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 (Photo by Sam Forencich)
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

It's really too bad he's not competing with them directly. 

Had Dante Exum been able to participate this year in the NCAA, the top-prospect debate would be between four 18-years-olds—not just three.

Quite frankly, he should still be in that conversation with Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, regardless of where he's currently playing. You could even argue that Exum, a 6'6'' scoring point guard, offers the most potent package of athleticism, skill and size for his position of any of the previously mentioned standouts. 

Exum still hasn't made it clear whether he'll declare in 2014, but the general feeling is that he's ready to make the jump if someone is willing to reach up and grab him.

When discussing the current field of top prospects, ESPN' Chad Ford recently spoke (subscription required) with an NBA executive who said, "All of them are going to be great, but when you watch Exum, you see the ability to be a generational talent. My owner might kill me, but I think you take Exum, regardless of what the other guys do this year. Exum's already proved it to me."

TREVISO, ITALY - JUNE 10:  Dante Exum practices during adidas Eurocamp day three at La Ghirada sports center on June 10, 2013 in Treviso, Italy.  (Photo by Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images)
Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images

By proving it, that executive was likely talking about Exum's performances during international summer competition.

In 2012, he finished fourth in scoring at the U17 FIBA World Championships with 17.3 points per game. 

The following summer, he was invited to participate in the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit, where he played alongside Wiggins and against Parker and Randle. After generating buzz all week in practice, Exum went on to score 16 points in the main event during the World's win over U.S.A.

But his most impressive feat came at the 2013 U19 FIBA World Championships, when he led Australia to a bronze after putting up 18.2 points and 3.8 assists a game. 

Exum went for 33 against Spain and 28 against Lithuania in July, earning the full attention of NBA onlookers in the process. 

He's built a little like Wiggins—thin, yet incredibly explosive with a first step that makes him impossible to contain off the bounce. 

At 6'6'', he's a ball-handling guard and problem for every opposing backcourt. The mismatch he presents is what really drives his unique NBA upside. He's got the skill set to play either the 1 or the 2 while maintaining a substantial physical advantage at each. 

Quick, shifty and elusive, Exum draws a ton of fouls simply because nobody is able to stay in front of him. 

With the ability to break down the defense and the instincts to know what's around it, he's a playmaking machine off the dribble. 

As a scorer, Exum has the ability to completely take over a game. He's a tough cover whether he's generating offense with the ball in his hands or playing off of it as a 2-guard. 

And though not the best shooter, Exum has tremendous confidence, which allows him to score points in a hurry or in bunches on the perimeter. 

Like Wiggins, Exum is also dynamite in the open floor. And with a point guard's handle, he's able to initiate the break himself and take it coast to coast. 

Defensively, Exum has massive potential with the foot speed, length and size to completely overwhelm. He's going to have a few extra inches in every direction against almost any point guard he faces.

Exum's two-way upside is really can't-miss, and makes the 2014 draft even more star-studded than it currently seems.

He's a game-changer. We just haven't seen anything like him, which really plays to his appeal as franchise guard. For Exum to go No. 1, we're probably going to need a general manager with maximum job security—especially with how well the American kids look this year.

But this isn't just another international prospect. Exum is the real deal, and should be considered a surefire challenger at the top of the lottery.