One. Dante Exum growing up story:
When I was really young, me and my brother used to play [pickup games], and he was always two years older than me, so he always used to beat me.
I would always cry, and run into the house and tell my mum and dad. And you know, and they said, “One day, you’ll beat him.” But with my dad, it’s, I finally beat him a couple of years back, and we haven’t played since. But you know, I always say, “You’re only as good as your last game,” and that’s what I’m gonna hold on to.
Remind you of anything?
John Stockton growing up story:
As for my brother Steve and I, we competed const–I competed constantly. I think that, I’m four years younger than him, and it was never very difficult for him to beat me…
I remember coming in crying a couple of times, and my mom wouldn’t even stop washing the dish. She’d just say, “Well, if he’s too big, don’t play with him.” And then I’d run out in the living room and see if dad would do the same thing, and he’d say, “Don’t go play with those big kids if they’re too tough for you.” And a few minutes later, I was out there pestering them again, trying to play. …
My brother Steve boasted a record of about 1000-1 in bloody driveway battles. And that victory, though, ended all the games, so that’s my one claim to fame with Steve.
Two. Wow. So style. Much approve. Amaze. (via @utahjazz):
Three. Quin Snyder and Dennis Lindsey, Bromance Unintentional Dirty Quote Machines:
Snyder: Dennis and his staff are so good. You know, they wanted my input.
Lindsey: Frankly, Quin’s input was huge. Quin waited about a week. I thought I hired a mute for awhile.
Four. Dante Exum, asked what Americans are missing:
Tim Tams. You guys need some Tim Tams, though. No, I brought over some Tim Tams, but those are all for me. But yeah, Tim Tams are the greatest thing that’s ever created.
I concur. Especially dark chocolate mint. Om nom nom.
Five. Rodney Hood on playing AAU basketball against Derrick Favors when Favors was a senior and he was in ninth grade:
He probably doesn’t remember, but I do…He was taller than everybody, you know, and dunking everything.
Will he be dunking on you in practice now?
Nah, I probably can catch him now.
According to Craig Bolerjack, he was told by Randy Rigby and members of the Jazz front office on draft night that they thought Aaron Gordon would be sitting in their lap (#UDQM) and that they did not expect Dante Exum to still be on the board at five.
David Locke, meanwhile, was asked on the day of the draft who he’d pick if it came down to Noah Vonleh and Exum at five. His response:
“Well, it won’t. Dante E—I have been told by numerous people there’s just no scenario that Dante Exum gets to the Jazz at five…There’s really no, I mean, huge stunner, huge stunner, from all the inside people I talk to, if Dante Exum’s on the board at five.”
Given that no one thought Exum would fall to the Jazz, I thought it’d be fun to see what LHM media members were saying about Exum before he became a Jazzman.
What is something the listeners have to know today in preparation for the draft?
Locke: I thought the only newsworthy thing…Dante Exum informed me that he didn’t work out for the J—he met with the Jazz in Chicago. He didn’t work out for them because of the fact that he thought that Utah, he and his agent thought Utah was a bad situation for him with Trey Burke having already been drafted there.
On which player had the biggest “aura” during pre-draft interviews
Locke, day before the draft: Jabari [Parker], actually, now that I think about it, really didn’t today. [Andrew] Wiggins might’ve had it a little more than he did. And [Aaron] Gordon actually might’ve had it as much as anyone.
Locke, day of the draft: [Aaron Gordon] had the biggest aura about him of any athlete I talked to yesterday in that draft room…I didn’t feel that out of Jabari or Andrew yesterday, but I would say Aaron Gordon was probably the closest to having that of anyone in the group. I really like him an awful lot, and I hope he’s there at five, and I hope we take him.
Locke, day after the draft: That [aura] did not exist as much with Wiggins and Jabari. More Wiggins than Jabari…But both Exum and Gordon owned the moment more than anyone else in those interviews. I thought Gordon particularly, but I think Exum as well.
On the scouting report on Exum
Locke: [Exum] is 6-6, lightning fast. Talked to a guy today who loves him, knows what he’s talking about, loves him but says it’s gonna take awhile. I mean, it, probably not gonna add a win to your ledger next year. You all right with taking that?
Is Exum a point guard?
Locke: He is, every game he’s ever played in his entire life has been at point guard. Now, it’s Australian high school, but…
1280: He’s not a point guard in the NBA.
Locke: He thinks he is…[Like Noah Vonleh,] Aaron Gordon thinks he’s a three too, but he’s been smart enough to go through this draft process and say, “I’ll play whatever position you want me to play.”
Who are the guys projected to be drafted in the top eight or nine that will make us think “That team blew it” when they are drafted? Who are the two or three guys that will be busts?
Locke: I think Doug McDermott would, might bust. I think Dario Saric might bust. … I think Dante Exum has gotta be on the list.
Is Dante Exum a foreign Nikoloz Tskitishvili or a foreign Dirk Nowitzki?
Locke: There are not a lot of 6-6 point guards in the NBA. I get nervous when guys are outside of their regular realm and if he’s not a very good point guard, then he’s a terrible shooting guard. But people love him.
Two out of every five top five picks do not become NBA starters
Locke: Top five picks, from 1997 to 2010, 17 [percent] become an all-pro…Another 17 percent become all-stars. So, that’s 34 percent become all-stars. And 29 percent become starters, so that becomes, 63 percent become starters. So the top five picks, 63 percent are starters. Well, that’s three out of five. So two of these top five picks, on average, do not become starters in the NBA…So, to me, that is Dante Exum and Joel Embiid.
Would the Jazz draft Marcus Smart?
This doesn’t have anything to do with Exum, but is being included because Exum also declined to work out for the Jazz.
Bolerjack: [When] he’s turned down twice for a workout? I don’t [think so]…The agent’s kinda making a stand, saying, “Look, Marcus doesn’t really have interest. Pass him over so he can go to Los Angeles and bask in the sunlight of Los–of L.A.”
So again, what does that tell me, if I’m going to sit down and judge personality, which I do on part of my draft process, then right now I’ve got a negative feel for Marcus Smart. If that’s the what, if that’s the way he’s gonna approach me and start his career, by not allowing us to, you know, work him out, then that’s a huge red flag on my part.
If, in these players’ positions, they oughta be chomping at the bit. Who cares where they’re playing? They have an opportunity of a lifetime…You get an opportunity, you take it. You’re in no position, in my opinion, to say “No thanks” for a workout…
What you don’t need is a pouter. What you don’t need is disruption in the locker room. This team’s young enough. That, this pick, I think, has to bring it mentally. And if you have any fear that he’s not on board with your plan, then I think maybe you have to give him his way, because how many guys do you see in this league that sit and pout?
** Boler on the Derrick Favors and the fifth pick to Cleveland for the first pick trade talk (summarized):
The big take is that [Favors and Enes Kanter] cannot survive and play together. At one point, the Jazz were 1-24 when Kanter started. The Jazz have probably gotten to the point where they’re saying no, it’s not gonna work. Therefore, both of those players being named in trade rumors gives Boler belief that the experiment is over.
This is not a knock on Tyrone Corbin, but could they play together for a new coaching staff and in a new system?
Quin Snyder was a point guard at Duke, so you’d think he’ll be a more offensively-minded coach. Also, good coaches vary their systems to fit the strengths of their players. He is working in tandem with Dennis Lindsey on the future direction of the franchise.
** Boler is sick of hearing Salt Lake City referred to as a small market, and dubs it a mid-market.
** Locke’s response to 1280 question, “Why do you like Evan Fournier? Who the heck is he?”:
He’s a French player. Played in Denver. He’s actually kind of Dante Exum-esque, actually, except for he can shoot it. Not as quick.
** Boler believes the Jazz will match any offer sheet Gordon Hayward may get and the number won’t be as lofty as some may fear based on the season Hayward had last year.
** Per Boler, KJZZ will televise three of the Jazz’s summer league games.
** Locke on the maturity of 18-year-olds Vonleh and Gordon:
Vonleh seemed much younger than Aaron Gordon, and you know, frankly, without being rude to Enes, we’ve done this game before with a young 18-year-old. I’m not sure we need to do it again.
** Locke on the Jazz trading the 35th pick (summarized):
People unhappy that the Jazz gave up No. 35 for a 2016 second round pick should “shut up.” …Response to the “six people” unhappy about the transaction that “in this day and age they get a voice, which is our failure as media members to react to them,” is “The guys running these things are not idiots.” Furthermore, the Jazz were so fortunate to get the two draft picks they got that the third one was just irrelevancy.
** Locke on the 76ers’ draft:
I hope they never win another game…I think we have a responsibility, even if maybe you’re in a rebuild process, to put out quality every night. That’s a joke. They really drafted two players that aren’t gonna play? It’s beyond me. It’s bad for the game.
** Boler on the Marvin Williams to Miami rumors:
I’ve heard that as well. But I also heard that, I’m not sure, he may wait to see what LeBron [James] is thinking. But I do know that, and he told me straight up, he’d love to come back. Randy Foye told me that, but you know what happened there. He decided to, well, he did move on.* And there’s players that, DeMarre Carroll, but now he’s in Atlanta. But a lot of players, I think, find out that they like it here in Utah once they land in Salt Lake City, and it’s not as bad as people sometimes make it out to be.
* What happened there was that the Jazz traded Foye. Foye in December: “To be honest with you, I thought I still was gonna be there [after last season]…Me and my family really enjoyed [living in Utah], and I wanted to be there for awhile, but things didn’t work out that way.”
One. First look at Dante Exum and Rodney Hood in Jazz uniforms, via @utahjazz:
Two. TMZ ran a story today about Rodney Hood dropping $80,000 on draft jewelry:
Before he became a 1st Round NBA Draft pick … Rodney Hood got himself ice’d out with $80k in high-end jewelry … TMZ Sports has learned. We know … the day before the draft, the 21-year-old phenom hit up Rafaello & Co. in NYC — and picked himself up a $50k diamond-coated stainless steel Breitling Bentley watch.
He also dropped another $30k on an 18-carat gold and diamond bracelet with princess cut and round diamonds. Not too shabby.
Hood’s awesome response:
Three. Per @AlexKennedyNBA, David Stockton has elected to play for Jeff Hornacek and the Phoenix Suns in the summer league.
Stockton worked out for the Suns before the draft and he and Horny had a good time sharing anecdotes from when he was a kid and Horny was a Jazz player.
Update: Meanwhile, Michael Stockton, who currently plays in Germany and played for the Jazz’s summer league team the last two years, will be playing for the Thunder’s summer league team this year.
Four. Walt Perrin on Raul Neto’s status:
He will not be able to participate in summer league…I think he’s leaving tomorrow, heading back to Brazil, because he’s on the list to try out for a couple of the national teams. So he’ll be, he’ll probably be participating with the Brazilian national team’s trial.
Are you okay with his decision to go back to Brazil instead of playing for the Jazz’s summer league team?
We try not to stand in the way of players playing for their national team. It’s a great honor. So, we’re for him trying out for the team. Hopefully, we, he will make the team so it’ll give him more experience. So, it’s something we encourage.
Randy Rigby two summers ago on the subject of Jazz players playing for their national teams:
[Foreign Jazz] players come out and play for their national teams, and we’re paying millions of dollars for them in our contracts and then they get injured. They get also a little bit more worn out. …
One of the concerns I have had is our [American] athletes being around each other together and enjoying this idea [of playing together], and by them being around each other, some of our superstars, them talking and just saying, “Well, maybe we oughta stay together and formulate our own little squads in Miami or in New York” or wherever it might be. I think there’s been a little bit of that atmosphere going on, and I don’t like that competitive nature. …
You know? Deron Williams wants to compete against Dwight Howard instead of teaming up together after we’ve already gotten all of our money first, and then now let’s make it easier for us to win….And so, one thing I think the Olympics has done a little bit is maybe invite that atmosphere of those guys coming together and wanting to do that. So that’s one negative to what the Olympics does.
Five. Randy Rigby on Raul Neto and Derrick Favors, Unintentional Dirty Quote Machine:
Derrick Favors was in yesterday working out, and Derrick and Raul have been, were doing some drills together, and it got my juices flowing. I was really excited to see them out on the floor together.
Six. Randy Rigby, asked which was the worst Jazz draft since he’s been with the team:
You know, we’ve had, there were a couple of ‘em that were probably disappointing in the l–in the early 2000s. And I’m thinking of when we had to deal with some of our challenges that, you know, unfortunate, some guys that we thought would work out.
Curtis Borchardt was one that I think we were, w–ended up being a little bit disappointing to us. Again, as we all talk about, sometimes you look at talent and things, and then you can’t anticipate,* all of a sudden, injuries that come into these players and they don’t become, now, near the player that you had hoped…So you know, I think Borchardt was one, you know?
We had a guy that happened to be, you know, have some challenges and was picked up down in Tooele area,** and that wasn’t the best of years for us as well. So, we’ve had some guys that unfortunately haven’t produced, but I’ll say this. We were also working with a very limited group of people, who worked very hard but didn’t have the intel that we now have.
* Borchardt’s injury troubles couldn’t be anticipated? Is this really the belief of the Jazz front office, or was Rigby concerned Kevin O’Connor would hear the interview?
** Luther Wright, who was found banging garbage cans and smashing car windows at a rest stop in 1994.
Seven. Walt Perrin on why the Jazz’s third pick (No. 35) was traded:
We felt, even going into the draft the last few days, that it would be tough to bring on three young players with our young team. We need to address some of our concerns with our team with free agency, and if we added another player out of college, that takes away a roster spot.
So, as a group, we all felt that it was best for us to either move the pick or take a European stash and leave the player over in Europe.
And as we talked about it, we felt that the offer that Memphis gave us was a pretty good one, and that’s why we decided–we had a couple other teams call, in terms of trying to get that pick, but we felt Memphis’ was probably the best one for us at that particular time.*
* Memphis’ offer, the best one, was a 2016 second round pick.
** Who are you?
I’m a chill, down-to-earth guy. Like a, you know, not much of a partier or anything like that. I like to stay at home, play video games, stuff like that. Just resting, and when I’m not resting, it’s in the gym.
** Do you prefer to play on or off the ball?
My preference is on the ball, but you, to be in a good team and have good chemistry, you need to sacrifice something, and I think both me and Trey [Burke] realize that at certain points we’re gonna have to play off the ball and it’s just gonna be a thing we’re gonna share.
And you know, one night it could be that he’s better suited to play the “one,” and the next night it might be I’m better suited, but you know, it’s just about adjusting to what the other team gives us.
** Hardest matchup of your life?
World championships against Vasilije Micic from Serbia. Just a strong point guard, and got into the paint and found his man and they were able just to knock shots [down].
** Which NBA player are you most looking forward to going up against?
Derrick Rose. He’s coming off his injuries, and I’ve been a fan for a few, for awhile. So you know, I’m excited for him to get back on the court and then get a chance to go against him.
** Which sports did you play besides basketball?
I did play [football] a bit. You know, I just realized it wasn’t the sport for me. I could run, was faster than everybody, catch the ball, but I just couldn’t kick the ball….I did track and field also.
** (From year-old interview) Will you get the customary NBA full-sleeve tat?
No way. No chance. No. My mum has already told me no.
Rapid fire with Dante Exum
** Favorite shoe of all time: Adidas Crazy 8s
** Kanye or Jay-Z: Kanye
** LeBron or Kobe: Kobe
** Favorite video game: Battlefield 4
** Favorite candy: Reese’s
** Favorite superhero: The Hulk
** If you could pick a walk-up song for when you get drafted: Drake, “Trophies”
** Pets: Dog named Cleo
** Favorite non-basketball pro sports team: Essendon football club, Australian rules football
** If you had to pick one, Instagram or Twitter: Instagram
** Favorite Instagram follow: Kevin Hart
** What don’t fans know about you?
I’m just a young southern guy, you know, low-key guy. Not really high maintenance. I’m an outdoors person. You know, I love to fish. Love to, you know, just to meet new people and things like that…I love going out and meeting fans, and being, you know, being in touch with them. So, it’ll be a good transition.
** The last game you played was a hard pill to swallow. How much are you looking forward to your next game?
That game was hard for me to swallow. I watched it, you know, before I started the pre-draft process, and, just to humble myself. And you know, it was great. It was great just to look back and reflect on that.
And you know, I wanted to go back to school after that loss, but you know, coach [Mike] K[rzyzewski] told me to calm down and just weigh my options some. But you know, I’m just itching to get to summer league and, well, just get to [summer league] training camp, actually, get familiar with the guys, get to summer league.
** Why did you decide to transfer from Mississippi State to Duke?
When I was at Mississippi State, you know, most of the people that I came in with within the program left, you know, one way or another, so I decided to start fresh myself, and you know, Duke, coach K was one of the first coaches to call, and I felt like it was a no-brainer for me to go to Duke. I felt like they would push me to be the best person and player, you know, that I could be.
** Defense has been one of the knocks on your game…
I think, you know, that’s a underrated part of my game. You know, I think, I mean, I guarded the best players in the game at Duke. And you know, it’s gonna be a adjustment for me, but it’s gonna be easier than people think…Weaknesses are kinda magnified in the draft, but you know, once coach Snyder and everybody sees me, how I’ve been working on my defensive game, you know, I think they’ll be surprised.
** You grew up playing point guard. What has been the progression of your basketball career?
I played point guard, you know, pretty much all my life. Played in city league and then junior high and high school. I hit a growth spurt around my eighth grade year. I grew to 6-5 at the end of my eighth grade year. And my ball skills, I kept working on ‘em, and I played point guard all throughout high school.
But once I got to, you know, once I got to college at Mississippi State, you know, I realized, you know, it’s, Magic Johnson is gone, you know, and I became more of a scorer and a shooter, and I still had a little ball-scree–ball skills. I was able to do really well in ball-screens this year, and I want to carry it over into the NBA.
** Hearing that if you play a game of hoops against your girlfriend, you could lose…
Oh naw. Oh naw. I let her win one time a long time ago. I never heard the last of it. So, she never wins anymore.
** What will be your living arrangement in Utah?
Starting off, I’ll probably be by myself.
** Rodney’s dad, Ricky, is a “big Jerry Sloan fan.” (DN)
Rapid fire with Rodney Hood
** If you could pick a walk-up song for when you get drafted: Big K.R.I.T., “Mt. Olympus”
** Most embarrassing song on your iTunes: Beyonce, 1+1
** Magic or Bird: Magic
** LeBron or Kobe: Kobe
** Kanye or Jay-Z: Jay-Z
** Rihanna or Beyonce: Beyonce
** Last movie that made you cry: The Notebook
** Favorite NBA team growing up: Memphis Grizzlies. It was the only team around Mississippi at the time.*
** Favorite non-basketball pro sports team: New Orleans Saints
** Most points you’ve scored in a game: 48, sophomore year of high school
** Weirdest thing a fan has ever said to you: Some fans ask you to hold their babies, their newborn babies, which is kinda weird.
** If you weren’t in the NBA, what would you be doing: Playing baseball
* Hearing the ESPN crew talking about how Glenn Robinson was drafted 20 years ago made me feel old. I think this made me feel even older. (The Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001.)
** What is it about Dante Exum that makes the hair on people’s arms stand up?
I think it’s a couple things. One, he’s a very charismatic player. Just the way he goes about the game, everything he does, he does with charisma. And it’s not flash. It’s just, there’s kind of a, his game kind of exudes some respect, and it’s nice to see that. It’s like a refreshing, kind of purist game. And the other, that would be all fine and good, but if he wasn’t as fast as he is, you wouldn’t get to see those glimpses. So I think his speed and his burst is unique.
** I have this vision of you as a mad scientist playing around, moving stuff. Give me the mad scientist view of Trey Burke and Dante Exum on the floor together.
Ironically, there isn’t a whole lot of madness in that science. It’s, those two guys really fit each other well. I think we have tendencies to name positions. You know, in that sense, really, they’re both point guards, but they’re both very different.
We wouldn’t, it’s a unique position, so I think people look at it and in people’s minds, it’s difficult to have two of them, whereas if you had, you know, we don’t differentiate as much between Enes [Kanter] and Derrick [Favors], for instance. They’re just, they’re both forwards; they’re both centers; it doesn’t matter.
I think the same is true of guards. And a long time ago, there was, you know, Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe. There was [Joe] Dumars and Isiah [Thomas]. Whatever those guard combinations were, they won. And they were two of the best, you know, five, sometimes two of the best three players on a team, and that’s how I see these guys potentially…Especially if we play in transition, then positions just kind of fall away.
** On coach K and Rodney Hood
I called [coach K] during the draft. He wasn’t at home, so I had to call his mobile. I try not to call his mobile…The thing he said that stands out–he said a number of things [about Hood] as a player–but he said, “He’s a kid you wanna be around every day.”
And I thought to myself, “That’s good, because we’re gonna be around each other every day.” And that’s, yeah, that says a lot for Rodney and what those people in that program think about him.
Unintentional Dirty Quote Machines (UDQM)
** Dante Exum on his post-draft party: I was planning to go in and go out, but you know, that didn’t happen, so I got back at, like, 3 [a.m.]
** David Locke to Exum on his mad interview skillz: You’re stunningly good at this. You were really good last night. I think you got tired after about the 23rd interview and I watched you go through that whole rigamarole. You really were good today. Do you know why, like, what is it, of why you’re comfortable doing this?
** Rodney Hood on the early flight his family had to catch to Salt Lake: It was tough to get up that early.
Dennis Lindsey: With Dante and Rodney, we’re excited. They’re excellent players, but they’re better young men. And we feel, literally, that there couldn’t’ve been two better fits for the Jazz organization.
Quin Snyder: Dante and Rodney, for me, we’re obviously extremely excited that they’re here. I think Dennis alluded to the fit.
For myself, as a coach, it begins really with their character. Through and through, everything that we’ve heard about both these young men is that they’re strong young men.
Capable of being coached hard, which is always good for the coach. And they love the game, and they’re people that, in trying to continue to build a culture here with the Jazz, that we feel like they’ll be terrific in that building process.
Dante Exum: Firstly, I’d just like to say it’s an honor to be here. You know, it’s been a dream of mine for the longest to be drafted, and I couldn’t be happier to be drafted by the Utah Jazz. They have a rich tradition in the way they play, with, through John Stockton and Karl Malone, and to be named, to be a part of that is just, it’s truly an honor.
And you know, speaking to coach after I got drafted, it was good to hear the plans in the development he has planned for me, so you know, I couldn’t be happier and I can’t wait to meet my teammates.
Rodney Hood: Just echoing what he said, I’m very excited to be here, be a part of the Jazz family. And you know, couldn’t really sleep last night. You know, wanted to just get here and you know, see the town…
You know, and it works out in mysterious ways, but you know, it was a blessing to be a part of this family.
What do you plan to do to put your mark on the team and learn as quickly as you can?
Some of the best advice I’ve gotten is just to kind of hook onto a veteran and you know, I’ll start to get a feel for the team and kinda who’s been in the lean–the league for a long time.
You know, just kind of learn the ropes from them and then try from there to earn the respect and try and lead in my own way ’cause as a point guard, that’s one of the important things, is having a good relationship with every teammate. And then being able to lead from that.
Mike Krzyzewski has only taken four transfers in his entire coaching career. How did you go from a redshirt to a captain?
It kinda took me by surprise, honestly. I came in, and you know, it took me awhile to get adjusted to Duke. You know, coming from my previous school at Mississippi State, you know, you go from a place where you hope to win to going to a place where you expect to win.
And just the everyday atmosphere, you know, I had to learn how to, you know, just grind every single day. And I had guys like [former Duke assistant coach] Steve Wojciechowski, [former Duke associate coach] Chris Collins and [Duke associate head coach] coach Jeff Capel, who was able to, I was able to lean on in that year, and kept me in the gym, and just worked hard on my game.
Also, got a chance to focus on my schoolwork, with Kenny King, the academic advisor, and I just got a lot better. I learned how to be patient. You know, I learned a lot, and you know, I took it over into the season and pre-season, and I worked hard. You know, I became a little bit more vocal, and guys [kind of] gravitated toward me. So coach saw that, and decided to make me a captain.
Can you expound on why homesickness won’t be an issue for you?
It might seem weird, but I don’t get homesick. I’ve been away from home since I was 15 living at the [Australian Institute of Sport], and you know, I do miss my family but they give me the support.
And you know, there’s Skype calls and all that, and I’m sure it’s a, just a, it’s a long flight over but you know, they’ll be there for me and if I want them here, they’ll be over in 20 hours.
In which ways do you feel the pro game will suit you better than the collegiate game?
I think the game’s just gon open up for me. You know, me being able to shoot the ball, and learning different things about myself, you know, throughout this draft process. You know, I’ve gotten a little stronger so I can post up more. And it’s a lot more space so I can put the ball on the floor, you know, one or two times and get to the basket.
So, and defensively, you know, I just need to, you know, learn how to use my length and continue to get better at that. You know, on the, ’cause, you know, everybody’s a good player on this league. So, just gotta continue to get better in all facets, but I think just the spacing will help me a lot.
You were a point guard at Duke and the Jazz draft a point guard and a player from Duke? Seems like you might’ve been pulling some strings in this draft.
It’s not the fact that it’s a point guard. It’s this point guard. And it’s not the fact it’s a Duke player. It’s this Duke player.
What are the challenges for Exum and Hood to become productive NBA players?
Dante, you know, mentioned the youth of our team. I think we have players that really wanna work and get better. And in that sense, the youth becomes a real asset. And I’m remembering, Rodney, that you said you wanted to play defense, okay? Don’t forget that.
Which aspects of your game do you want to improve the most over the summer to be best prepared for your first NBA season?
I’m looking to get faster. You know, coming from where I’ve come from, you know, the game steps up, and you know, everyone’s better at this level, so that’s just definitely one thing. And then also, shooting. Just being a consistent shooter and having the confidence to step up to the 3-point line and knock down the shot.
I just wanna get in the best shape I can possible, and get as strong as I, get my body right. That’s how Imma be able to contribute right away. And you know, just learning the game more on both ends of the floor.
How did your parents (president of a Boys and Girls Club and a principal) raise you and how did that contribute to your leadership skills?
It helped me out a lot. You know, I grew up in the Boys and Girls Club. You know, my, everybody in my family played ball and that’s where I learned how to play ball, at the Boys and Girls Club. And you know, they, my mom, you know, was my principal for a few years so I tried to stay out of trouble.
But it was just great having them as a support system, you know, throughout high school, my college career. They were always there for me.
And just, you know, I guess her being my principal really helped me out a lot, ’cause you know, if I got in trouble at school, then I had to go home and face him. So, but it’s just good having that basketball background and I’m blessed to have them.
** People demoting Utah from “city” to “town”: Bryan Miller.
** Dante Exum has a twin sister.
** Rodney Hood’s parents are named Ricky and Vicky.
** Hood’s girlfriend, Richa, played four years of college ball at Duke and will be playing professionally in Brazil next season.
“But Dennis, before you stand up, I have to just make one comm–“
Unintentional Dirty Quote Machines (UDQM)
** Randy Rigby at the beginning of the press conference: Thank you all for coming this afternoon. It has been a whirlwind 24 hours, literally to the point that Greg just picked up Dante and Rodney less than 30 minutes ago.
** Dennis Lindsey in the middle of the press conference: We’re a little late, but better late than never.
** Rigby at the end of the press conference: It was very gratifying for me, as we came, to the decision time, the climax time.
I have so many questions.
–Who decided that everyone should wear the same outfit?
–Why the matching outfits?
–Did everyone get dressed at home and arrive at the practice facility in matching outfits?
–Or did everyone get there, head to the locker room, change and come out in matching outfits?
Why should fans be excited about Exum?
The tools. He’s 6-6 in his shoes. He’s got close to a 6-10 wingspan. He has the ability to accelerate in a short period of time, and he makes it look smooth. Some of us, when we run hard, we’re gritting our teeth, and Dante seems to make everything look easy.
And so, there’s some ability to break through the line of the defense, array of finishes, his ability to score. And so, as much as anything, there were some speed and some tools that really intrigued us, and we’re gonna have to spend a lot of time working with him [on] his body, his skills, his mindset. But I think we have a development program that will allow all that to come to fruition.
On Quin Snyder’s impression of Exum
We were playing catch-up with Quin, and then the assistant coaches that have been hired in the last 10 days or so. And so, I really appreciated Quin’s approach. He came in, and was listening to our management and scouting group talk about each prospect.
And so, Dante we watched a few times on video, and Quin initially didn’t have a lot to offer. And we had a quiet moment. We were talking, and he asked, “What about Dante?” And “Are you seeing what I’m seeing with his speed and ability to get to the rim?” And I said, “Yeah, that’s who he is.”
On how Exum and Hood will fit into the Jazz system
Within our, what we call our motion-based offensive system, it’s a very dynamic offense where we use pick and rolls to create the lead and separation. And then, like some of the better teams, we don’t want the ball to stop.*
So we really like Dante’s ability to create on the front end of the possession, and we really, for a young guy, we liked his decisions once he was able to get into the paint. So, we think there’s significant ability there to do that.
And then with Rodney, Rodney’s a very good pick and roll player. He was really efficient in what they did with Duke, and Duke has some of the similar spacing that we wanna have, and the nice thing with Rodney is his size and shooting ability. I think he’ll also complement our primary players that will have the ball in Trey [Burke], and Alec [Burks] and Gordon [Hayward].
* I like how Lindsey pretends the last few years didn’t happen.
At 6-6, does Exum have the lateral quickness to guard all three positions on the perimeter?
I think going forward, that will be Dante’s biggest challenge, is the size, physicality relative to the 24-sh–second shot clock and defense. And, but the one thing that we found out through the interviews and through our diligence, he’s a very competitive, driven young man.
So, I think in time he’ll be a good defender, and certainly [has] the size to play the wing, the speed to play the point guard. But Dante’s in store for a NBA introduction on how quick, how fast, how violent NBA basketball will be. But we’re confident over time that his makeup and work ethic, he’ll be a good player.
Lindsey’s version of Kevin O’Connor’s “Judge this pick in two years”
The evaluation will be years from now on how Dante develops and how Rodney contributes.
Why did you decide to trade away the last pick [Jarnell Stokes]? Too young of a team?
We actually liked the player that we traded away, but with our youth movement last year, adding two very young players and one extremely young in Dante, we felt like we needed to push out that pick going forward. It’s something that we did last year, so our ability to accumulate assets is key for us to be able to make deals in the future.
Was the organization close to making a deal to move up at any point tonight?
We really looked at trades in all directions, and certainly moving up was something that we were very aggressive in doing. There, I’m glad you asked the question. There were several media reports that were wildly inaccurate. And so, those type of things are unfortunate, but we were looking several different directions.
What was wildly inaccurate?
I won’t get into specifics.
On Hood the person
Rodney, our intel around Rodney was top-shelf individual, first-class all the way. So, the Jazz fiber, culture that we always talk about, he really fits in seamless.
We got another Dukie in here, so, we’ve added a few of those over the past few weeks. But it’s safe to say the connections that we have with coach [Mike] K[rzyzewski] and the Duke program gave us good certainty that Rodney could fit our group.
Exum is handsome, among other things
There was real maturity there [in the way Dante dealt with being away from home], and we were really impressed. And you won’t ever make a selection because of an interview. You make the selection on their basketball talent, but certainly their health and their character and makeup, and we felt really good with the interview, and that was a key part of our decision-making process.
And so, he’s handsome.* You know, he has the natural Aussie charm. He’s very humble and self-effacing, so I think the media and the market will really appreciate him.
** Exum’s agent is Rob Pelinka. Ugh.
** Has never been to Utah.
** Will wear No. 6.
** Is from a town about two hours away from Al Jefferson’s hometown. Watched Big Al play in high school. “He was a monster.”
** Alter ego is named “Roscoe.”
** On dropping in the draft
It’s, just adds to the chip on my shoulder. You know, I always felt like I was a, you know, an afterthought, and you know, tonight was a perfect example of that. But you know, God puts you in, you know, in places that He wants you, and you know, you just gotta believe in it, and roll with it. You know, I think I landed in a great spot for me.
** What was it like sitting there waiting for your name to be called?
It was kinda nerve-racking. You know, you wanna hear your name called as quick as possible, but at the same time, I landed with a really good team, you know, with great fans, and you know, a great coach, you know, in his first year. So you know, I’m excited I landed in a really good spot.
** Talk about being a kid from a small town in Mississippi now being in the NBA.
It’s unbelievable. You know, you think of, you know, I, excuse me. You think of, you know, just a little kid, playing at the Boys and Girls Club, you know, wanting to be, like, a Big Brother. You know, and getting the chance to walk across the stage, and give some people hope, you know, from where I’m from, you know, that means a lot.
** Do you know any of the Jazz players?
I know Trey Burke. And you know, I heard about Dante [Exum], and I’m excited to be playing with him and coming in with him. You know, Derrick Favors, I played against him back in high school.
** Have you talked to Derrick Favors?
I haven’t talked to him. You know, that was, you know, he was a senior in high school. I was a small kid. You know, he was, so he probably doesn’t remember me. But I just remember playing [against Favors' AAU team] the Atlanta Celtics.
** On playing for a coach that is also a Duke alum
I heard a lot of great things about him, and I’m sure, you know, he learned a lot from coach. And you know, it’ll be a, not a easy transition, but a more comfortable transition knowing that he went to Duke.
** Does it excite you to be part of a youth movement?
Oh, most definitely. You know, going to [an] up and coming team, that’s right there on the verge and got a lot of talent, and I think I can add to that and we can make a playoff push this year.
** Which players did you admire growing up?
Man, I grew up, I watched some really good players. You know, Monta Ellis, I watched, you know, him b–since he was in high school. Al Jefferson, who used to be with Utah awhile ago. You know, Jonathan Bender. I mean, it’s a lotta guys come from Mississippi. Antonio McDyess, you know, is from around there. So we got a lotta good players I was able to watch as a young player.
** What do you have to say about other players saying they won the style game tonight?
Aw man, I think I did good. You know, a lot of people was complimenting me on the way I dress. A little bit flashier than I’m used to, but you know, it’s a one-night thing.
Gotta get used to wearing purple.*
Yeah, most definitely.
* I know purple hasn’t been a Jazz color in a decade, but I still love this. Jerry Sloan used “bleeding purple” last year to describe being a long-time Jazzman, so purple we are.
** Is there anything in particular you took away or learned from your draft workouts?
The main thing, I’m not much of a leader, a vocal leader. And you know, teams want that. And I went into the workouts, my first workout, and they didn’t see that much from me, but I started to get a hang of it, and went into the next workout just making it a goal to be the loudest guy on the court even when things weren’t going my way.
** What is your goal for your rookie season?
My number one goal is to improve on the record of the team in the previous season.
** Have you met or interviewed with Utah?
Yeah, I did meet with them at the combine, but I didn’t work out with them.
Because you don’t expect to be there at five?
No, it wasn’t that. It was, just didn’t think it was, they just drafted a point guard, so we didn’t think it was a good situation.
** On American stereotypes of Australians
Yeah, so one guy gave me a nickname called “Crocodile Dee-ee.” And, I’m like, I’ve never seen a crocodile in my life. But, yeah, it’s like, every time [they] see you and someone says, “Crikey” to me. Someone says, “Throwing shrimp on the barbie.” So you know, I’m like, yeah, I just go with it, and I say, “What’s up, mate?” or “G’day, mate.” And just kind of play off my Australian accent, and people love it.
** Has never been to Utah, but knows where it is on a map.
** Called Utah a “city.” Good omen. (See Malone, Karl.)
** Will wear No. 11.
** Dad played with Michael Jordan at North Carolina.
** Why didn’t you work out for Utah?
Looking at the draft and where I was placed, me and my agent thought that I wouldn’t get down to five, but you know, anything happens in the draft…I’m lucky enough that Utah believed in me, and picked me up at five.
** What excites you the most about playing for the Utah Jazz?
It would have to be being under the coach of [Quin] Snyder. He, had a little talk to him and he talked about how he was a point guard and how he think he can, he thinks he can help me [on my] journey.
** You’ve said that you are a point guard, but the Jazz already have Trey Burke…
Looking at the team, we’re both players that can play the one and two. You know, it’s gonna be a shared role, I think, and it’s the best way to go if I’m on one wing and he’s on the other wing, it’s who’s quicker to get it to. And you know, I’m sure he can play the two as well and I take the one, and I can ta–play the two while he plays the one…I look forward to getting out there and having the chance to play with him some.
** How do you see the point guard partnership with Trey Burke working?
I’m sure it’s gonna be a good relationship. In my Australian national team, we play, we have three point guards, with me, Patty [Mills] and [Matthew Dellavedova]. So I mean, rotations, so you know, it’s nothing new to me.
** Is it a big jump for you to go to the United States of America?
Both my parents are American, so I’ve been over here many times. But you know, it’s not too much of a culture shock coming over here. Australia’s very much like America, so you know, I’ve been over here for about five months now, and I’ve gone very well in adjusting.
** What do you promise to deliver to Jazz fans?
I promise to deliver someone that’s gonna go out and try to win every night. You know, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first game, it’s the last game, it’s, we’re down 20. I’m gonna try to win, and that’s the mindset I’ve always had, and I’m gonna try to bring.
** Who was your basketball idol growing up?
I wanted to be Paul Pierce.
** On the nickname “Crocodile D”
Yeah, don’t call me that. You guys can make up a new name.*
* Music to Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring’s ears.