I'm going to get this out of the way: In the current stages of their career, I hate the fit of Dante Exum and Victor Oladipo playing in the same backcourt. The combination of those two are going to put up some remarkably poor perimeter shooting numbers and will probably struggle to move the ball. But this instance in the Liberty Ballers NBA Mock Draft is the perfect example of a team needing to draft the best player available, and that's the Cabbage Patcher, which is a sweet nickname for someone from Exum's part of Australia.
Like Milwaukee and Philadelphia before them, Orlando has more than one pressing need. Even with scorers like Parker and Wiggins off the board, Exum falling right into their lap still fills a hole. Jameer Nelson has had consecutive injury filled seasons, and with an $8 million team option for 2014-15, there's a real good chance they opt not to pick that up. The fit of Oladipo and Exum may not be the most optimal, but there's room for the two to grow together. Drafting the 18-year-old allows Oladipo to move back to his more natural position of playing two guard.
Plus, the potential of Exum is simply too much to pass up on, high praise for a kid who many have seen in very limited action. If you angled your dish satellite in the right direction, there was a chance you caught him in action with Lake Ginniderra Secondary College, but otherwise the normal fan only saw him at the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit.
With a 16 point, three rebound and two assist performance, they weren't disappointed. The first thing you notice with him is that he moves like a red kangaroo (I'm just going to keep making Australia jokes). His ability to get out in transition is second to none in this draft, and can blow past defenders in half court sets too. Look at this first step to the basket here in FIBA U19 competition against Lithuania. Defenders are forced to play off him to avoid getting beat off the dribble, giving him plenty of room to kill them with a sweet mid-range jumper.
Well, that would be the case if he had one. The biggest weakness in his game is his lack of a shot, which will be somewhat limiting at the next level. His issues seem correctable though, and every other aspect of his game seems suitable.
I find Exum's intangibles and playing style very similar to that of Michael Carter-Williams. Tall, lanky, and rather good around the rim. But with Exum being a better on ball defender and his shooting flaws more easily correctable, he is on a faster track to reaching his full potential than MCW. It's no wonder Philadelphia has flaunted the idea of moving Carter-Williams for him. But unfortunately there are no trades in the LB draft, and if it were up to me I would send him to Oklahoma City so everyone could call refer to him as "the thunder from down under".
Dante Exum isn't really a mystery--scouts and GMs know the basics: he's long, athletic and packaged with advanced skills, well beyond his 18 years of age--but he's a mystery to fans. He's a beacon of hope--an ultra quick and super long-limbed point guard with seemingly limitless potential. But he's also terrifyingly unpredictable: Can he run an NBA offense? Is his jump shot broken? How will he fare against better competition?The first question is the most important. Orlando's point guard position is aging and unstable. Jameer Nelson might not be back next season, and even if he is, he's 32 and slipping on both sides of the ball. Victor Oladipo is explosive but erratic. He's a slasher and improving play-maker, but you never know if he's going to tally more assists than turnovers. Herein lies a proverbial hole for Exum to fill. If he's a point guard, which he says he is, then he can come to Orlando, slide into the starting lineup and develop in the backcourt alongside Oladipo, pushing the Indiana product back to his more natural position: shooting guard.Exum and Oladipo are, in theory, a match made in heaven. They are young, long-armed, quick as hell and could develop into the peskiest defensive backcourt in the NBA. Exum would handle primary ball-handling duties, while Oladipo works as a slasher and secondary play maker. The caveat lies in Exum's enigma. What if neither Exum nor Oladipo develop a stable jumper? What if neither are ever comfortable running an NBA offense?I like the idea of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid falling to No. 4. Those three feel like superstars in the making. We know, providing good health, they will carve out long, productive NBA careers. But Dante Exum, considering his size and athleticism, is a very good consolation prize, even with the mystification surrounding him.
Tanner's got the Jazz tomorrow.