The NBA sphere has been abuzz with anticipation since Dante Exum, a 6’6″ guard out of Australia, declared for this summer’s draft. He’s expected to go in the top five, and scouts value him for all sorts of reasons—his improving jumper, athleticism, first step, etc.
Exum, to his credit, wants the opportunity to showcase those reasons. As such, he’s already naming teams that would be a perfect fit. He told Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling the Los Angeles Lakers were an intriguing destination, which surprised no one. Kobe Bryant is one of his idols, so playing alongside him would likely be a dream come true.
Who doesn’t he want to play for? The Los Angeles Clippers.
“I don’t want to go to a team, somewhere like the (Los Angeles) Clippers, that have Chris Paul and I’ll be kind of stuck behind him,” Exum said, per The West Australian‘s David Barbeler.
Totally understandable. And luckily for Exum, he has no chance of going to the Clippers.
The Clippers currently have the sixth-best record in the league, and fourth-best record in the Western Conference. They aren’t going to finish in the lottery, let alone land a top-five selection. Exum has nothing to worry about so long as Griffin and Paul (when healthy) don’t allow Los Angeles to, you know, lose every one of its remaining games.
But the actual issue here is playing time. Exum doesn’t want to be buried on the bench, which is again understandable. It’s also unlikely.
A player like Exum typically starts right away. Teams that land in the top five or seven draft for immediate need. It’s unlikely a team, such as the Boston Celtics for instance, select him when they already have a point guard. It could happen, obviously, because of Exum’s size; some team might want to make him into a pure shooting guard or use him as part of a dual-point guard lineup. That could certainly happen.
Bury him on the bench, though? No. No way. Which projected lottery team would be that stupid? Maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers, but unless they trade Kyrie Irving (and take part in another lottery miracle), they’re not a viable destination.
Exum’s position is an interesting one, though, if he’s hoping to play point guard at the NBA level. Six of the league’s bottom-seven teams already have their point guards of the future. The Philadelphia 76ers have Michael Carter-Williams; Orlando Magic have Victor Oladipo; Sacramento Kings have Isaiah Thomas; Utah Jazz have Trey Burke; Celtics have Rondo; and Cavs have Irving.
In Orlando’s case, Oladipo doesn’t necessarily have to be a point guard. Rondo’s future in Boston is up in the air as well. And once again, we cannot rule out an attempt to pair him in the backcourt with a more proportionate floor general. But it will be interesting to see how teams approach draft-day decisions.
Oh, and by the way, while we cannot guarantee Exum he’ll land with the Lakers, they do have the league’s eighth-worst record and are in need of some youth and playmaking, so they are a possibility.
More importantly, we know with absolute certainty that Exum won’t be forced to play for the Clippers.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com.