After a 25-win season, a year of scouting, calls taken and made, workouts, war room meetings and a seemingly endless stream of speculation, the Utah Jazz have finally planted their flag in the 2014 NBA Draft. With the fifth pick, GM Dennis Lindsey has selected Australian combo guard Dante Exum.
With the foot injury to Joel Embiid, it was widely expected that Exum would be off the board when the Jazz made their selection at No. 5. However, with the Philadelphia 76ers taking Embiid at No. 3 and the Orlando Magic making the surprising choice of Aaron Gordon at the fourth spot, Utah found themselves with a potential franchise player still in the green room.
Exum, who did not work out for Utah leading up to the draft, cited concern over Utah’s drafting of Trey Burke last summer when asked about the potential of Utah as his landing spot. As fate would have it, Burke happened to be attending the draft. Moments before his team made their pick, he stated that one of their greatest areas of need was a guard who could run with him.
Exum may not have considered such a scenario, but the Jazz starting PG last season will apparently get his wish.
Sitting at the fifth spot heading into the draft, it seemed unlikely that Utah would be able to acquire one of the four players that prognosticators considered potential franchise-changers. Thanks to some favorable/surprising moves in the top 4, the Jazz were able to pull off the improbable.
This is a great pickup for Utah. It was reported that they had settled on Gordon, but they caught a pleasant surprise here with Exum. Questions abound as to the ability of he and Burke to coexist, but the fact of the matter is that Utah got the player with the highest upside who was available to them.
It could take some time for him to develop and next season may end up looking a lot like the previous one in terms of wins and losses, but the addition of the lightning-quick, ultra-long Exum should give Jazz fans hope for a bright future.