This is the 28th in a daily look at the top prospects in the NBA Draft: Their strengths, their weaknesses, and whether or not they're a fit for the Celtics. Today's prospect: Dante Exum
DANTE EXUM, Melbourne, Australia
6-foot-6, 196 pounds
HIS STORY: By far the biggest question mark in this year’s draft is Dante Exum. Just like me, many of the GMs have never seen Exum play live. He’s only had two games against competition we're familiar with, in the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit and the 2013 U-19 Fiba Championships. At the Hoop Summit, against guys like Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon and Julius Randle, he played well, scoring 16 points (6-for-8 FG) and adding 2 assists off the bench to help the World team defeat the U.S., 112-98. The U-19 Championships -- against Gordon, Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton -- were a different story. Australia lost, 94-51, and Exum scored 7 points and had 4 turnovers. Other than that, not even much film exists of Exum outside of online highlight clips, which I put no stock in (anyone can look like the man in a highlight reel). Exum made his first U.S. appearance at the NBA Draft Combine in May and that’s where his draft stock really took off.
HIS STRENGTHS: I’ve said it many times on these evaluations: today’s NBA draft is about potential and athleticism. And at the Combine, Exum displayed both. He’s only 18 years old but is a 6-foot-6 point guard with a 6-10 wingspan. In the speed and agility tests, he turned in some of the Combine's best times. He’s a true point guard who can create for himself and his teammates. He has a strong handle and is creative with the ball to break guys down off the bounce. I don’t like to compare prospects to former NBA players -- especially never having seen Exum play in person and without a lot of game film to go on -- but I’ve talked to people who liken him to Penny Hardaway as a long, explosive, scoring point guard.
HIS WEAKNESSES: His body is still immature. He has great length and good height, but really lacks strength at this stage of his development. He will have to add more lean muscle to aid in his effectiveness on both ends of the court. He didn't participate in any of the on-court drills at the Combine, so all we really know about what he does well or poorly is hearsay. But from talking to people, his jumpshot really needs work. He’s just a slasher as of now but is working on his shot from inside and beyond the arc.
IS HE A FIT FOR THE CELTICS? Exum has been all but hidden from the NBA since last summer at the U-19 Championships. He finally began working out for teams over the weekend; he reportedly had a strong session with the Sixers for starters. These workouts will be huge in terms of where Exum will actually go. They will take into account his game and also the type of person he is. At the Combine, all reports were positive from interviews, but these one-on-one conversations with teams will allow them to dig a little deeper. He’s not just a player on your squad; as a point guard he’s most likely going to run your team, so his physical skills and mental aptitude are important. Long story short, Exum is just a question mark right now. All indications are he won’t be available at the sixth pick, so the Celtics won’t face the question as to whether or not to roll the dice.
COMING NEXT: Andrew Wiggins of Kansas