Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Dante Exum thrives as 2014 NBA draft's mystery man
NEW YORK — Dante Exum knows no one knows much about him.
In fact, the Australian recited the two most common requests he's gotten over the past few months from strangers, NBA personnel and reporters alike: Could he describe his game, and could he also compare it to that of a current NBA player?
Welcome to life as the 2014 NBA draft's mystery man.
"It's funny," Exum said Wednesday. "I didn't understand it at first. It's good to be known, but it's good to be a mystery."
A convergence of factors — many unexpectedly fortuitous — have combined to create this aura surrounding a relatively unknown player. And now, many are expecting Exum to be a top-five pick in Thursday's draft.
He said Wednesday he's only worked out for three teams — the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic, holding the second, third and fourth picks — but his agent also has been in contact with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hold the draft's top pick. It's almost mind-boggling for an international player not yet 19 years old, someone off most everyone's radars not even 14 months ago.
To understand Exum's dramatic rise and subsequent hype, begin with two basketball events.
In April 2013, the then-17-year-old Exum put on a show at the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., scoring 16 points and stealing some of the spotlight from the big-name players also participating in one particular game — which also featured likely top-10 picks Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle.
"(But) not a lot of people were paying attention because it looked like he was going to college," ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said earlier this week.