The mysterious Australian point guard who American scouts are raving about, Dante Exum, has declared himself for the 2014 NBA Draft about a month ago. Exum is expecting to be a very high first round pick, possibly even in the top 5. In a loaded draft, being ranked that highly must really mean that he is something special. Although we are not regularly exposed to Exum’s game as we are to players like Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, for example, there have been NBA scouts who visit him in Australia from time to time. Exum must have done some extraordinary things while the scouts were there because he has American basketball fans who have never seen him play, ecstatic about him.
Exum is a 6-foot-6 point guard, an attribute that is extremely out of the ordinary for such a position. Offensively, he is an excellent scorer when attacking the basket, but struggles heavily when shooting primarily from anywhere outside of 15 feet. Off the dribble, forget about it; Exum is awful when shooting while covered as well. To be a successful point guard in the NBA, he must be able to consistently hit at the very least a mid-range shot. Three point shooting would be an added bonus. Passing-wise, Exum exceeds in pick-and-roll situations as well as in transition. He likes to push the ball, penetrate the defense, and either kick it out to the open man or finish at the rim. In today’s game, quickness is key for any guard, especially in the Western Conference.
Furthermore, on the defensive side, Exum’s size is certainly a huge advantage. He has the potential to be an outstanding defender that can cover both guard positions. This is a vital attribute to have since he is going to have to go up against players such as Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard, who absolutely run their opponents out of the building on a nightly basis. Exum is not the strongest player out there by any means, but this issue can always be addressed in the weight room. We can’t forget that he is just 18 years old too. Bulking up will come within his first couple of seasons as a professional. At this point, his defense is probably the most appealing aspect of his game due to the fact that finding an elite defensive guard is almost impossible. Look at Eric Bledsoe, he has made a living off of his defense. His outside game is coming along, but in the meantime he’s an asset to the Phoenix Suns for his defensive abilities.
So, should the Los Angeles Lakers draft Exum? It’s a tough call. If the Lakers end up with a top 5 draft pick, I’d say hold off to go after a big man. However, if the franchise somehow winds up picking outside of the top 5, Exum would be the most talented player remaining in the draft at that point. Of course, Los Angeles would be running the risk of using the pick on a player that has not been scouted nearly as much as American college players, but the rewards by far outweigh the risks. If anything, the team will have a potential elite defender, which they are in desperate need of. Also, in Kobe Bryant‘s final years of his career, he is going to need a point guard that is able to create open shots. Working as hard as he has in the past for his points simply cannot occur anymore. Bryant’s body needs to take the least beating possible. Therefore, Exum would without a doubt find a home in Los Angeles if it just so happened to end up that way.