SALT LAKE CITY — Dante Exum notices it before hitting the film room, but there's a part of his game that sticks out when he’s reviewed game tape this preseason.
Exum’s engine runs out of gas quicker than he’d prefer.
That’s understandable considering he missed last season after undergoing surgery on his left knee in September 2015, but it’s something he wants to improve on as the 2016-17 season approaches.
“I need to learn how to play when I’m tired. That’s the biggest thing for me,” Exum said when asked what it’s like to watch film of himself for the first time since tearing the ACL in his left knee 15 months ago. “Whether it’s getting open on the cut or getting into the right position, that’s the biggest thing for me.”
Jazz coach Quin Snyder agrees with Exum, but he doesn’t believe it’s entirely his young point guard’s fault.
“He’s got to play through fatigue,” Snyder said. “A little bit of what’s happened is because we’re not entirely healthy maybe he’s being thrust into situations because we’re not as deep as we’d like to be and as a result his minutes get extended and things like that.”
Exum is expected to play a sizable role for the Jazz in sharing playmaker duties with veteran newcomer George Hill. Exum’s physical limitations create a small dilemma for Snyder.
“He’s just got to stay focused on it,” Snyder said. “Part of it right now, you can see him getting tired out there and it’s just a question of whether you want him to try to play through it and show it to him afterward and let him see himself or get him out and try to get him fresh again. We haven’t really had that option of getting him out.”
Exum said his gradual fitness decline throughout the game affects him when he’s trying to do “the little things” like fighting through screens and getting to various spots on the court such as the corner.
His plan: “Just keep pushing.”
STILL WORKING: Gordon Hayward hasn’t been available for action since breaking the ring finger on his left hand a week and a half ago, but he’s not just playing video games until the fracture heals.
In recent days, Hayward has been spotted working out with Jazz assistant coach Johnnie Bryant. Hayward will occasionally touch the ball with his healthy hand, but most of his work is done without the ball. He’ll simulate fighting through screens and sprinting to spots while acting like he is dribbling or shooting.
“He’s making everything,” Snyder joked. “It seems like you don’t realize he doesn’t have the ball until you watch him go to release and you’re waiting for the ball to go and it’s not there.”
Snyder believes Hayward’s commitment to full-speed work will help when he returns.
“(With) all the work, I think he may take a little bit to take his timing back,” Snyder said, “but he’s done enough that I think it will come back to him pretty quick.”
WORK IN PROGRESS: Exum’s assessment of what’s gone wrong for the Jazz at times this preseason: “I just think it’s losing concentration. It’s not become a habit yet. That’s what we’re focusing on more and more in practice, just those little things becoming a habit.”