During the Las Vegas Summer League, No. 5 overall draft pick Dante Exum and fellow Aussie Brock Motum were teammates for the Utah Jazz‘s summer squad. With the FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain nearly upon us, the duo will join forces once again as they prepare to represent their home country in the tournament. It’s a great opportunity for both to compete against high-level competition, and an experience that could be of great benefit to both players.
For Exum specifically, it could be an important step in his developmental process. Before Summer League, the Jazz held an open scrimmage that marked the first time in several months that Exum had participated in live, five-on-five action. The on-court rust was apparent in Vegas as the point guard regularly lacked energy in the second-halves of games. The FIBA tournament provides Exum with another opportunity to get back into the swing of things and grow more accustomed to playing regular basketball against high-level athletes.
With San Antonio Spurs guard and fellow Boomer Patty Mills forced to withdraw from the team due to a shoulder injury, Exum will be expected to play heavy minutes for Australia at the World Cup. For a player that Utah hopes will become a cornerstone for their franchise, his ability to cope with major minutes and play productively late in games will be crucial.
While the injury to Mills is unfortunate, it affords Exum the chance to better acclimate himself to doing just that.
The experience is important to Motum as well. The 6-foot-9, 230-pound big man has earned a reputation as a hustle player and a garbage man after two successful Summer League tourneys. His play for the Jazz earned him an early invite to training camp. However, with the Jazz already having a crowded rotation in the frontcourt, Motum will have a hard time making the regular season roster.
A good showing in FIBA play could go a long way in helping his case for the NBA. The Jazz may be a tough cookie to crack, but the rest of the league and the world will be watching. As with Exum, any opportunity he can get to showcase his talents and develop his game must be seized by the big man. If Utah ever finds themselves without the services of Trevor Booker, Jeremy Evans, or even Derrick Favors, Motum could make himself the first player they call on to come in and help shoulder the burden.
This is an important offseason for both men, and their experience with the Australian National Team is a big part of that. The 2014-15 NBA season is still far in the distance, but what happens at the FIBA World Cup could go a long way in shaping how it unfolds for Exum, Motum and the Jazz.