TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 1: Dante Exum #11 of the Utah Jazz dribbles the ball during the second half … [+] of an NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on January 1, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Way back in 2014, Dante Exum was the No. 5 pick in a much-ballyhooed draft class that included Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Jokic (who received no hype at the time), just to name a few.
Despite his lofty draft spot, Exum is 48th in his class in career wins over replacement player. Tyler Ennis, Doug McDermott, Andrew Wiggins, Johnny O’Bryant and Nik Stauskas are the only players behind Exum, who’s played in just 204 of a possible 410 regular-season games.
A variety of injuries have cost Exum valuable experience and developmental minutes. But even when he’s on the floor, he’s struggled in a variety of areas. His shot is far from consistent. He’s sometimes loose with the handle. But there have been flashes of good playmaking from a position-less player. And he’s shown an ability to lock down more than one position on the other end.
It’s not hard to see a useful rotation player if he can just stay healthy.
Assuming he can stay on the floor, one projection system sees him taking a slight step forward in Year 6.
In an effort to forecast what his line will look like in 2019-20, we’ll look to FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO projection system.
And we’ll do the same with the rest of Utah’s starters, as well as a few potentially key reserves. But first, the methodology:
- Pull up a player’s CARMELO projection.
- Find “Performance of the 10 most comparable players” below the table entitled “Wins above replacement projection.”
- Take the season immediately following the one listed for each player and multiply the basic totals by the given similarity score.
- Add the results from all 10 players together.
- Divide the total for each basic category by the total for minutes, then multiply by 36 (to get the numbers in per-36-minute format).
- Divide makes by attempts for percentages.
For Exum, the seasons used were Gary Brokaw’s 1977-78, Todd Lichti’s 1991-92, Al Wood’s 1983-84, Delon Wright’s 2017-18, Jerian Grant’s 2017-18, Doug Overton’s 1994-95, Randy Foye’s 2008-09, Greivis Vasquez’s 2012-13, Terence Stansbury’s 1986-87 and Gerald Henderson’s 1981-82.
That’s certainly not a murderers’ row of historical comps. But again, it’s been a bumpy start to Exum’s career. And those comparables actually yielded a slight uptick for Exum, as opposed to most of the projections from this series (which can be found here).
- Dante Exum’s Last Three Years: 13.8 PTS, 4.5 AST, 3.8 REB, 1.1 3P, 0.7 STL, 0.3 BLK and .047 Win Shares per 36 minutes, 43.1 FG%, 29.3 3P%, 79.5 FT%, 48.0 eFG%, 52.5 TS%
- Dante Exum’s 2019-20 Projection: 15.2 PTS, 5.4 AST, 3.8 REB, 0.9 3P, 1.2 STL, 0.3 BLK and .060 Win Shares per 36 minutes, 44.8 FG%, 35.0 3P%, 80.3 FT%, 48.2 eFG%, 52.7 TS%
As you can see, this system sees slight increases in scoring, assists and steals for Exum. His field-goal percentage and three-point percentage are both forecast to go up, as well, though his effective field-goal percentage and true shooting percentage are basically the same.
An outcome like this would be a step in the right direction for Exum, but it won’t mean much if he has another season in which he misses a ton of games. At this point, availability is the most important possible development.