The Los Angeles Lakers continue to lose games at a blistering pace, and it looks like they will have at least a top ten pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. One of the top prospects in this year’s class is Dante Exum from Australia. Exum is a wiry, athletic 6-foot-6 combo guard with great quickness and pace. He can score, defend, pass and handle the rock. It has been rumored he is enamored with Kobe Bryant and wearing the purple and gold.
He hinted as much in an interview with Bleacher Report’s Andrew Zwerling, “Definitely L.A. is one option,” Exum said. “I’ve been to L.A. many times and I love the city, and it is a great city. If I get the opportunity to go to L.A. and play for the Lakers, I know I’ll have love for the city. And their fans are loyal and they have the rivalry with the Clippers. But just to be in an environment where you have a great player like Kobe, where you have a mentor in a way as a rookie, I think that would be the best option.”
This is a unique situation because of Exum’s international status. He can simply make threats about only signing with the Lakers which could very well scare off other teams in drafting him. If the Lakers are picking somewhere around the 5-8 range, another team picking before them would be compelled to go with another player. There are about 4-6 players who are considered to be on the same level of Exum which could part the seas for Los Angeles to snatch the Aussie.
We all know the Lakers need help at guard in the athleticism department, and this kid has a ton of it. Nobody on their roster is a surefire, long-term solution at this point. The big question with Exum is the lack of top notch competition in Australia. How will his game translate when entering a new culture and playing with a different set of characters than he is used to? Aussies such as Andrew Bogut and Patty Mills have had success at the NBA level, but both went to American universities before transitioning.
The Lakers might not have a choice as there may very well be a scenario where he is the last man standing from the top tier of draftees. They might have their eyes set on someone like Marcus Smart, but the team in front of them might draft him in fear of getting shunned by Exum. Let’s see how all of this unfolds, but there is a very real possibility Exum could call Staples Center his home next year.