One of the 2014 NBA draft's biggest mysteries has been solved: Dante Exum is going to the Utah Jazz after being taken with the No. 5 overall pick.
The team's official Twitter feed welcomed him to Salt Lake City:
ESPN's Stats & Info provided some historical context to the pick:
Many expected the Orlando Magic to take Exum at No. 4, but as the Salt Lake Tribune's Tony Jones and Basketball Insiders' Nate Duncan argued, the Jazz won't mind the surprise:
The Jazz select Dante Exum. So after all the hand wringing, the Jazz get a franchise talent. Potentially elite point guard— Tony Jones (@Tjonessltrib) June 26, 2014
Aaron Gordon number 4 according to @WojYahooNBA. I think this is a huge mistake for the Magic, great boon for the Jazz if they get Exum.— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) June 26, 2014
Prior to the draft, the 6'6" Australian combo guard was often defined as a wild card. Before workouts began, opinions of his talent had to be construed based mostly off YouTube highlight videos and a couple of days at the Nike Hoop Summit.
Everyone was torn when it came to the international man of mystery. One representative of a team picking in the top five, via NBA.com's David Aldridge, would have taken him No. 1 overall:
One team's general manager, according to Dime Magazine's Twitter feed, offered up unbelievably high praise:
One GM Says Dante Exum Is “Closest Thing I’ve Seen” To Young Kobe Bryant http://t.co/uBHJLNJ4Fu— Dime Magazine (@DimeMag) June 24, 2014
Not everyone is as convinced, though. Fox Sports' Sam Amico doesn't foresee the talented guard making a smooth transition to the NBA:
Every year there's flop out of NBA Draft in 4-10 range. My pick for draft flop this year: Dante Exum. #savethistweet— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 26, 2014
It's easy to see both sides of the argument.
At 6'6" with a 6'9.5" wingspan, Exum is built in the Michael Carter-Williams mold. Although no one seems to be in agreement about whether his long-term fit is at the 1 or 2, he's capable of playing both positions. When it comes down to it, he's a dynamic playmaker who can easily get to the rack, where he has the athleticism to finish at a high rate.
It will be very intriguing to see how he fits next to Trey Burke. The Salt Lake Tribune's Aaron Falk noted a peculiar pre-draft detail:
Exum said he didn't work out in Utah because he wants to play PG and the Jazz already have Trey Burke.— Aaron Falk (@tribjazz) June 26, 2014
Despite that, though, the two can certainly fit together in the same backcourt. As DraftExpress' Mike Schmitz and Jonathan Givony each noted, Burke's ability to shoot the ball nicely complements Exum's ball-handling skills and devastating first step:
Burke can play off the ball a bit because of his shooting ability. Exum can guard bigger PGs that Burke can't.— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) June 27, 2014
I personally think this is a great pick for Utah and love the fit between Dante Exum and Trey Burke. They complement each other beautifully.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 27, 2014
On the flip side, Exum's shooting is still a question mark, and it's fair to wonder how his alluring physical tools will translate to a competitive basketball game, which he hasn't played in a long time. As ESPN Stats & Info noted, there's not exactly a long track record of players in his situation:
Also, he clearly lacks patience:
These are the longest 5 minutes! #NBADraft— Danté Exum (@daanteee) June 26, 2014
Eventually, though, his mini slide came to an end, and he can now concentrate on putting an end to any mystery that may still be surrounding him.
The Jazz may still have some holes, but a core of Burke, Exum, Gordon Haward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter makes for an undeniably captivating future.