Jazz Lose PG Dante Exum to Torn ACL
The Utah Jazz were hoping second-year year point guard Dante Exum could make a big jump in the 2015-16 NBA season. Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait to monitor any major strides in his development. Per reports, Exum suffered a torn ACL while playing in an exhibition game in Slovenia and is likely to miss the entire 2015-15 NBA season.
Initial reports were that the team “feared” an ACL tear, but Utah-based sports broadcaster Tim Montemayor confirmed the news.
One Falls, the Other Rises
As painful as this news is for Exum, it simply means one more chance for Trey Burke to prove he’s the man for the Jazz’s starting point guard job. Burke has had little trouble finding his own shot in his first two years in the league, but has not been very efficient and hasn’t always been the best play-maker. Fears of his size and athleticism heading into the 2013 NBA Draft may not have been exaggerated, but if the Jazz are going to find success this upcoming season, it may be via Burke re-defining himself.
No knee injury is a good injury, so Jazz fans will want to watch Exum’s rehab closely. The injury comes at a terrible time, as the young point guard still had to prove that he had the chops to defense, create and score at a high level. He began to prove himself as an outside shooter as a rookie last year, but was still lacking polish in just about every year. With the recent injury and looking at a lost season, will his development be stunted? Will the Jazz wait to see if he will pan out? It’s tough to know, but what is certain is Exum won’t be available to play this year and he faces a long road to recovery.
A rising team in the second half of the 2014-15 NBA season, the Utah Jazz were heating up as a legit playoff contender for next year. It’s debatable whether the Exum injury helps or hurts them, as the team does still have some solid point guard depth in Burke and could potentially be totally fine. Then again, Exum was said to be improving his play, and there’s no telling how far he could have taken his game going into the new season.
We can’t know that, though. What we do know is the Jazz weren’t a playoff team a year ago and still play in the brutal Western Conference. Losing Exum certainly doesn’t help, as the team’s lead guard depth takes a hit at the very least.
All of that being said, point guard was never the breaking point for this Utah squad. Their strength rests with their solid coaching and their top shelf defense. That defense is largely anchored by big men Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, while Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood offer plenty of upside as strong two-way players.
There will undoubtedly be plenty of pressure on Trey Burke to now realize his potential as a former first round draft pick. If he can, the Jazz might just shock some people and nail down the West’s 8th playoff spot. If not, it could just be the same old story for Utah.
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