Heading into the season, expectations for this Philadelphia 76ers team were extremely low, yet filled with optimism. Fans knew that the team would struggle to win games, but the city embraced it due to the brighter horizons that could follow this season with a high lottery pick in the loaded 2014 NBA draft.
Thus far this season, the Sixers have not met their expectations to the full extent as the team is just 7-19.
It sounds crazy to say, but the Sixers not meeting their expectations as being the worst team in the league, is actually a bad thing for this franchise.
The Sixers currently have the third worst record in the league, and if the season were to end today, the team would end up with the third pick in the draft. Sam Hinkie’s plan of tanking this season to earn the first or second pick in the draft has not gone as expected just yet. There is still plenty of season left for things to go in the direction that Hinkie envisioned for this year, but with teams like Milwaukee and Utah struggling more than the Sixers, the team is likely to miss out on the chance to draft Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker.
Having the third pick is not a bad thing, but it is also not the best case scenario. If the Sixers miss out on Wiggins and Parker, who should they turn their attention to on draft night?
Enter Dante Exum.
Not many folks know about the super talented combo guard from Australia; however, that will certainly change in a few months.
Dante Exum is an eighteen year old star who has dominated the Australian basketball circuit. Standing at 6’6”, Exum has a similar body frame to the Sixers’ own Michael Carter-Williams, but has all the makings of an NBA superstar.
Although he has spent much of his time playing the point guard position, Exum has the size and potential to be an outstanding two guard, who is capable of making plays for others. If the Sixers were to draft him, he could slot right next to MCW in the backcourt.
The scouting report for Dante Exum is filled with strengths that show just how high this young man’s ceiling is. He has the potential to be a force on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball for the Sixers. Using his incredible length and ball handling skills, Exum is excellent at penetrating the lane for easy buckets in the paint. He also has a knack for finishing through contact and above the rim.
The only real knock on Exum is his inconsistent shooting from the outside. Over the last year or so, the eighteen year old has been viewed as an extremely streaky shooter, but there has been significant improvement in his shot form and overall outside touch.
You may be reading this and be reminded of a player on the Sixers’ current roster, and you would be correct if you viewed Exum as a similar player to Michael Carter-Williams.
Despite the similarities in their respective games, Dante Exum has the ability to slide over and play at the two guard position for the Sixers if they were to draft him. In fact, many teams have pondered the idea of making him a combo guard.
Dante Exum does not have the pizazz or fame of Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, but one NBA executive has said that he would not be surprised if Exum were to be drafted with the first overall pick, or in the top three. He is simply that talented of a player.
Granted there is a huge risk with drafting a player who has not played in the United States against the top collegiate stars and NBA ready talent. Many foreign stars never truly meet their expectations when playing in the NBA. However, Dante Exum is certainly worth the risk due to his limitless potential if he continues to improve on his jump shot.
Drafting Exum would almost instantly make the Sixers one of the top defensive teams in the NBA. MCW and Exum are two players with long wingspans that can cause trouble on the perimeter for opposing teams. Factor that in with Nerlens Noel returning from his ACL injury next year and finally giving the Sixers a defense presence in the paint, and this team could hold opponents to under ninety points per game.
In addition to the defensive upside, Exum presents a player who could play either spot in the backcourt and score a ton of points. Of course, he would have to continue to improve his shooting.
The way the Sixers are playing right now, it is more than likely that they will end up with either the first or second pick in the draft come June. If the team does in fact earn one of these selections, there is no doubt that Hinkie and his front office should draft Wiggins or Parker. But if the team falls out of the top two, Dante Exum is a player to keep an eye on.