3. Stud - Dante Exum
Dante Exum continued his strong play last night as he was one of Dallas’ lone bright spots in their loss to Minnesota. Exum had 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists on 5-6 shooting from the field, and he canned two 3-pointers as well.
It’s becoming more and more clear that Exum may be the answer for Dallas as their third ball handler off the bench, but given how well he’s been defending wings and guards, there’s an argument to be made that Exum should be a starter upon Kyrie Irving’s return from injury. That wouldn’t denote Exum taking Irving’s place in the starting lineup obviously, but if he’s playing this well on both sides of the ball then perhaps that warrants him taking another Mavericks’ position in the starting five.
Exum did a great job of pushing the pace against Minnesota, and his ability to attack aggressively in the open court and diagnose mismatches for Dallas has been huge. Exum is doing well as a playmaker for Dallas as well, as he’s averaged 5.4 assists per game in the five games he’s played since being in the starting lineup for Dallas.
Exum doesn’t have the most dynamic ball-handling skills, but he covers a ton of ground and is very meticulous with his drives. His ability to keep his dribble alive to find cutters and shooters late in the possession has been a pleasant surprise for Dallas at this point of the season, and Exum showcased that ability in multiple instances against Minnesota last night.
At 28-years-old, Exum is starting to generate buzz as one of the best comeback stories in the NBA this season after spending multiple seasons overseas, and Mavericks' head coach Jason Kidd is certainly taking great notice.