This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It may sound a little strange, but Quin Snyder wants his teenage point guard to start playing like an aging power forward.
Hold on. Hold.
Hear him out.
With the Atlanta Hawks in town last week, Snyder saw in one of his former players, 35-year-old Elton Brand, something that he's dying to see more of in rookie Dante Exum.
"You're 19. You're in the NBA. That's kind of like, 'Wow. Let me take advantage of this,' " Snyder said. "He's got to play like that like this is an experience [and he is] going to get all of it, even if it's going to be for 15 years. The first year is a year. In Year 15, you'll look back and say, 'I wish I had it.'
"You know, Elton Brand is diving on the floor for loose balls. He's trying to play another year and another year and another year. I want Dante to play like he doesn't have all those years in front of him."
Exum certainly has many years and minutes ahead of him. From the day they drafted him, Jazz officials have been clear that he was a pick made for the future, a player who would need time before realizing his potential.
Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown, who coached Exum's father in the National Basketball League and later gave a 15-year-old Dante his first taste of the Australian national team, expected a big learning curve, too.
"The fact that he didn't play for an entire year to me was always going to make this year a slow year," Brown said last month when his team visited Salt Lake City, "learning the league and playing basketball again."
Exum is averaging five points, 1.9 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game.
But even as the Jazz look to bring Exum along slowly, the rookie has been presented a greater opportunity to play now. Injuries have beset the team's shooting guards. Alec Burks, Rodney Hood and Patrick Christopher are all hurt now, with Burks out for the season and Christopher facing a lengthy rehab after dislocating his knee.
And while NBA sources confirm the Jazz will add wing Elijah Millsap from the D-League as early as Monday, Exum is also getting a chance to get out on the court more often. The rookie is averaging about 18 minutes a game this year, but he has played more than 20 minutes in seven of his past 10 games.
"With Dante, it's been documented, he's going to have the ball and create situations for us going forward," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said last week. "There's a little bit of debate: Is that best as a point guard? Is that best as a 2? … He can use his size as a point guard, and he can use his speed as a 2-guard. So where his creative abilities best manifest themselves, we can take a look at that a little bit now. Albeit at 19, we might not find out for a while what the best position for him is. But it certainly allows us to experiment a little bit more with those minutes."
Asked about his increased opportunity, Exum said he is trying to keep things simple for himself.
"I'm just going to continue to play my game," he said. "… I think it's just sticking to what you know. That's been important, and not trying to play at 100 miles per hour."
His coach, meanwhile, would like to see the rookie come out of his shell a little more, as he did last week against the Hawks. In that game, Exum notched new season highs in points (13) and steals (3).
"I saw emotion from Dante," Snyder said later, "which I like."
Jazz vs. Pacers
P At EnergySolutions Arena
Tipoff • Monday, 7 p.m.
TV • ROOT Sports
Radio • 97.5 FM, 1280 AM
About the Jazz • Point guard Trey Burke bounced back from a dismal shooting night against the Hawks to lead the Jazz to a win in Minnesota. … Rudy Gobert had 11 points, five rebounds and five blocks in the third quarter Saturday. … Utah will be without Enes Kanter (sprained ankle), Rodney Hood (left foot), Patrick Christopher (right patella) and Alec Burks (left shoulder).
About the Pacers • Playing the second night of a back-to-back, coming off a game Sunday night in Los Angeles. … Despite being hit hard by injuries, still a top-1o defense in the NBA, allowing 101.1 points per 100 possessions. … Former Jazzman C.J. Miles is averaging 11.9 points.