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It's been a rough go for Dante Exum in Las Vegas, but he looked much smoother playing his natural position against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Prior to Friday's action, Exum was penciled in as a 2, mostly playing off the ball while Trey Burke ran the team and the offense.
As an off-guard, Exum often stood around, looking disconnected, almost aloof. Following a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News shared what Exum had to say about not playing the point:
I think I’m still comfortable at the point. I still want to get the ball in my hands as much as possible. I didn’t get it a lot in my hands these last couple of games.
With Coach’s system, it’s open, but there’s been so many times I’ve just gone away from the ball and let Trey take it.
Well, Exum got his shot Friday. Burke sat out the game with an upper respiratory infection, and the young Aussie started at the point.
He struggled from the field, shooting just 3-of-11, but Exum looks wise beyond his years in terms of pick-and-roll decision making. He prods the defense with caution, never getting ahead of himself, never losing the dribble. And four times out of five (he's still a rookie after all) he makes the safe, smart pass.
Exum's presence at the point clearly impacted the game, as he posted a game-high plus-17. The next closest Jazz player was Malcolm Thomas at plus-8.