As the countdown toward the 2014 NBA Draft nears the two week mark, pre-draft workout announcements are beginning to trickle in beneath the radar of the NBA newswire, as the public remains focused on the riveting NBA Finals currently being conducted by the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat.
On Monday, it was confirmed that the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers would be privy to separate private workouts with Andrew Wiggins over the course of the next 10 days. On Tuesday, it was Australian prodigy Dante Exum whose itinerary was brought to light.
Exum will hold a confidential workout for the Bucks this weekend, a team that has reportedly been high on him for much of the season. On the surface, Exum is the type of player that incumbent Bucks general manager John Hammond would seem to love: A high upside, physically gifted and extremely young talent who has played overseas. Hammond went to that well twice before in the first round, in 2009 with point guard Brandon Jennings (who played professionally in Europe for one season after high school) and in 2013 with Greek forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, whether the new Milwaukee ownership shares Hammond’s reportedly high view on Exum remains to be seen, especially with fellow top NCAA prospects Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins in the field. Exum’s workout for the Bucks brass this weekend will go a long way to seeing if he can crack into the aforementioned top three.
Exum’s camp obviously feels that he is worthy of the lofty status that he is currently receiving from scouts and draftniks alike. Per ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford, Exum will only work out for the Top four teams in the 2014 draft order, thus locking in his belief that he will slide no farther than fourth overall on draft night.
Exum is widely considered to be the best basketball prospect to ever come out of Australia. Still at only 18-years-old, he dominated his completion in the Australian High School leagues, but it was his performance in international competition that put him on the basketball radar here in the states. Playing for Team Australia at the Under-19 World Championships last year, Exum averaged 18 PPG, 4 RPG and 4 APG on his way to being named to the All-Tournament team at only age 17. Then, at the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit, playing alongside Canadian Andrew Wiggins on the international squad vs. a team filled with top US High School players, Exum continued to impress, piling up 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in only 23 minutes of action.
Yet a couple of good games in international play are far from the body of work that Parker, Wiggins and Embiid have established, making Exum a much more risky prospect, especially the higher that a team sits in the draft’s pecking order. Nevertheless, his skill and physical talent is readily apparent, namely his tremendous size for an NBA PG (6-foot-6) and his strong ability to create off of the dribble.
If Exum impresses at any one of his planned four workouts, and an NBA front office falls in love with what they see, do not be surprised if you begin to hear whispers of his draft stock skyrocketing as we head toward June 26.