With NBA Summer League 2014 wrapping up for the Utah Jazz late last week, Jazz fans got a peek of what the future holds for this young roster. Specifically, Jazz fans got a better look at Utah’s two recent first-round draft picks Dante Exum and Rodney Hood. Exum, who was selected with the No. 5 overall pick, had many Jazz fans jumping for joy when the Australian point guard unexpectedly fell out of the top four.
Leading up to the draft and prior to the start of Summer League, the recently turned 19-year-old had been compared to young versions of Penny Hardaway and Kobe Bryant, giving Jazz fans plenty of hope. Similarly, Hood, who fell from being a potential lottery pick to the No. 23 spot, also had Jazz fans excited as Utah was able to accomodate green room attendees the night of 2014 NBA Draft.
While a greater clamoring of initial excitement came from drafting Exum, Hood looks to be more NBA-ready right now and likely will make a bigger splash in the two rookies’ respective first seasons. Hood’s Summer League was highlighted by a 29-point performance against the Milwaukee Bucks that included seven made three-pointers. For the five games played in Las Vegas, Hood led the Jazz in total points with 67 for an average of 13.4 per game. Additionally, the former Duke star tied for the team’s fourth-highest rebounding total per game (4.2) and had the fourth-highest assist average per game (2.2).
Exum, on the other hand, only had one double-digit game (10 points in his first contest) for a point average of 7.2 per game. The bright spot for Exum though, was that he had the second-highest assist average with 2.8 per game, and showed defensive savvy, leading the team with 1.4 steals per game.
Although Summer League statistics need to be looked at cautiously, it can be a good indicator of how NBA-ready some players may or may not be. Exum, who very well could start for the Jazz on opening night (or at least some point this season), needs his game to develop over the next two or three seasons until he becomes the hyped-up player scouts salivated over.
Conversely, Hood, who likely will come off the bench backing up Gordon Hayward, can bring outside shooting and some offensive spark in a sixth-man role. He’s already proven to have a good-looking shot with NBA range, while Exum’s shot has a ways to go. Despite the fact that Exum may very well get more playing time in year one, Hood is likely to contribute more to the Utah Jazz this upcoming season. To say that Hood will be better than Exum right away is nothing for Jazz fans to fret about. In fact, it’s almost to be expected as Hood’s additional two years of organized basketball has him better prepared for the NBA game.
Furthermore, consider this: Hood is two years and nine months older than Exum, meaning that by the time Exum catches up to Hood’s current age, he’ll have completed three full seasons in the NBA. That’s something Jazz fans can look forward to with great anticipation. There’s no doubt that Exum has the potential to become a superstar in the NBA, but it will take time. As far as who will likely have a greater impact on the Jazz this season, Hood seems to be the answer. Spencer Sorensen is a Utah Jazz writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @sorny11 or add him to your network on Google.