Utah Jazz Guard Dante Exum suffered a torn ACL on Tuesday August 4th while playing in an international exhibition game against Slovenia. Exum, was playing in an exhibition for the Australia team as they prepared for the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championship later this month. He went up into the air on a jump stop before landing awkwardly, instantly writhing in the pain. The injury was of the non-contact variety, the sign for most that it was ligament damage as we’ve seen several stars suffer similar fates.
Last season the Jazz had one of the league’s top defenses and the sixth-best record after the All-Star break, the thinking coming into this season was that this was the team on the rise. That may not be the case anymore, everything came to a stop as Dante Exum was on the floor holding his knee in pain. The second year guard for the Utah Jazz, will miss this upcoming season which will be a major blow for the upstart Jazz.
As a rookie last season, the 19-year old started 41 games for the Jazz struggled at times but showed enough promise to have Jazz fans and coaching staff excited for this upcoming season. More importantly, Utah had hoped that Exum’s improvement along with the development of other young players; Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, Trey Burke, Derrick Favors to name a few, would push the Jazz into the playoffs.
The Jazz should be able to handle this injury with their depth. Trey Burke, started 43 games last season, is still on the team, Alec Burks should be healthy after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury. That’s not counting Bryce Cotton, Raul Neto, Kevin Murphy, and Dee Bost who are all on the roster right now.
The Jazz could and should look to make a move for another point guard, most of the guys I just named won’t make the active roster and are likely D-League players. This list of players could all be available as they are all expiring contracts and most shouldn’t take much to trade for: Beno Udrih, Mario Chalmers, Jerryd Bayless, Toney Douglas, Ronnie Price, Jimmer Fredette, Kirk Hinrich, Randy Foye, and Brandon Jennings. Some of the names on the list are likely unrealistic like Brandon Jennings, others are more of combo guards like Randy Foye, and Jimmer Fredette who has strong ties and popularity in the Utah area.
Dante Exum’s injury opens up a major chance for Trey Burke and maybe Alec Burks, Utah had started to experiment with Burks at the position at times prior to his injury. Depending on how he returns, it’ll be interesting to see who out of him and Burke will step up to seize the starting point guard job with Exum being away for a year rehabbing.