NBA Draft: Utah Jazz get lucky with Dante Exum, Rodney Hood
The son of former North Carolina basketball player Cecil Exum, the Australian averaged 18.6 points, 3.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds for the national team. The athletic talent really caught the eye of NBA scouts, including from the Jazz, when he tore it up at the Nike Hoop Summit during his high school playing days.
Lindsey cautions that Exum will have a learning curve because of his youth, but the Jazz are optimistic he’ll improve his shooting touch and work his way into becoming a two-way player. Utah is also confident he’ll be able to play point guard and shooting guard in a combination with Burke and Burks.
“Dante’s in store for an NBA introduction on how quick and how fast and how violent NBA basketball will be,” Lindsey said. “We ‘re confident over time that with his makeup and work ethic, he’ll be a good player.”
Exum and Hood will both fly to Utah from New York for an introductory press conference Friday afternoon before embarking on a whirlwind couple of weeks that will lead up to the Las Vegas Summer League next month.
“I've heard it’s a beautiful place,” Exum said of Utah.
Though Exum didn’t work out for the Jazz, thinking that he’d be gone by the fifth pick, Utah brass were impressed with his demeanor and attitude when the organization interviewed him in May at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
Some have compared his game to Penny Hardaway, but Exum said he’s got his own style.
“I honestly don't think I resemble anyone,” he said, adding that his speed and ability to push the ball are among his strengths. “I'm a very unique player.”
In Hood, the Jazz drafted a 6-8 small forward who averaged 16.1 points and shot 42 percent from 3-point range with Duke last season after transferring from Mississippi State.
Hood said he admiringly watched Al Jefferson play in high school in Mississippi and even played against Jazz center Derrick Favors as a teen.
“I'm excited to be a part of the organization,” Hood said after Utah used a pick acquired in last offseason’s trade with Golden State to pick him up. “It still hasn’t hit me yet, but I’m very excited.”
With their 35th pick, the Jazz considered drafting a player they could either stash away for the future overseas or in the D-League, but they ended up selecting Tennessee big Jarnell Stokes for Memphis. In exchange, Utah will get the Grizzlies’ 2016 second-round pick.
Lindsey admitted the Jazz tried to move up in the draft — and were tempted to do more wheeling and dealing — but ultimately stayed at the No. 5 spot. He vehemently denied that the Jazz attempted to trade Favors (although he didn’t mention him by name) and called such reports “wildly inaccurate.”
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