Jun 28, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan (left) and first round draft pick Victor Oladipo (right) address the media during a press conference at the Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Magic: Steer Clear Of Dante Exum

The Orlando Magic are a team still in the early stages of a rebuilding process. With their two lottery picks in the NBA Draft, fourth and 12th overall, the team has a chance to catch some real talent given the supposed depth available to choose from. In a lot of places there have been calls for the team to take Dante Exum, but there are many reasons why this makes no sense for this team.

Mar 20, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) speaks during a press conference during practice before the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

OK, so Exum has some things going for him that make him intriguing, but Orlando should not be the team that takes a chance on this guy. Best-case scenario, he turns into Damian Lillard, and while everybody would love to have that guy on their team, missing out on that potential is just something the Magic are going to have to live with if he comes good. Coming from Australia, the only times he has played against true elite competition was at the various tournaments he was invited to and played in. Other than that, playing for his country at youth level against the likes of the U.S. would have also pitted him against other players in this upcoming draft. Is that really a large enough sample with which to take somebody?

Again, he could prove everybody wrong, and that would be great for him and the league. He would become an international poster boy for the NBA as it globalizes it’s brand. What Orlando needs is more of a sure thing though, whoever that may be. Some think that Andrew Wiggins isn’t all he’s cracked up to be, for example. However, everybody is in agreement that at the very least he will be a solid NBA professional. It’s not stylish, sexy or even done that often, but drafting relatively safely is what Orlando needs to think about doing. Another team will take a flyer on Exum and hope he turns into the real thing, but expectations are beginning to creep back in Orlando, and they need to start producing on the court sooner rather than later.

Point guard is the most important position in the league these days. So while drafting a player like Exum, a point guard with a great deal of potential, is something a lot of teams will look into, why not come at it from a different angle. The point guard position is also the deepest in the league, and you can bet that the Magic could pick up a mid-range floor general for a manageable amount of money this summer. Maybe not Kyle Lowry, although that would be nice, but somebody in his mold. Goran Dragic was passed up by many teams last year, but he got a chance in Phoenix and took it. Orlando would be better to approach the situation in the same way. That is, pick up a veteran point guard somewhere along the way who already knows the league, and leave another team to take a chance on Exum.

People forget, this team already has Victor Oladipo. While he is a shooting guard at heart, the point guard experiment didn’t work, he needs an older head by his side in the back court as he grows. Yes, every team would like to replicate the success of the Washington Wizards with John Wall and Bradley Beal looking like they could be the backcourt tandem there for a decade-plus. But pulling stuff like that off is hard to do. Why not draft a forward, somebody like a Jabari Parker if available, stick him in with the other potentially brilliant bigs that are Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris, and watch them dominate as they grow together? It would seem the more sensible thing to do.

As ever though, we know that front offices and general managers in the NBA don’t always go with common sense. The team may indeed decide that an Exum-Oladipo backcourt is the way to go. With the potential of both, who could blame them?  Buying into that idea for a moment, both are already known for being two-way players, meaning putting them together could lead to happy days ahead for this team. It just seems that a lot of experts and people who claim to know what they are talking about think that securing Exum is the be all and end all. It isn’t. His potential could fill arenas down the road, but Orlando needs things to start happening for this franchise now, or risk turning fans away from the team permanently. Exum can’t change that himself overnight.

Tags: 2014 Nba Draft Dante Exum Orlando Magic

  • Michael Cunningham

    I agree Exum is so unproven, and it would be better if the Magic went through Free agency for a floor general. DJ Augustin would be an excellent choice after the year he had in Chicago. The Magic’s needs are at the PF/C position…Noah Vonleh would be the scorer/ rebounder @ #4 & #12 Jusuf Nurkic

  • Atrain

    I’m all for being cautious, and I’ll admit the level of competition is worrisome, but if you’ve seen him play you see that his skill set translates pretty easily to the next level. You gave no ‘basketball’ reason why he magic should pass on him. Fact is he is a 6’6 explosive guard who can see he floor, get to the rim and finish. I wouldn’t mind Vonleh at this spot, but Exum has GREAT upside as we’ll and would mesh nicely w/ Oladipo both offensively and defensively.

  • JD

    I do agree he is unproven…just as unproven as any player that hasn’t played in the NBA before. To pick a player that is projected to go lower than him in the draft however is just plain stupid. Parker,Wiggins are 100% not going to be available at the 4th pick. So get that out of your mind. The only other player that would be worth looking at above Exum is Enis. And talk about unproven! That guy is way more of a risk than Exum. (back issues) as far as most needed position, hands down the PG. No debating that. And beside you should always draft the best player not by what position you need. Exum is the best player that will be available at the 4th pick AND we also need a PG. That in combination of the risk/reward ratio… its a no brainer. Draft Exum. You can always sign a “mid range” PG down the road when you dont get a chance to draft guys like this but once a decade…unless you are Clevland…

  • bpmtec

    Although this is an opinion piece and its hard to argue because everybody has their right to an opinion the one thing that is glaringly obvious is that there is a problem presented with no real solution. Its fine to suggest that Exum is not the right player for the Magic but at pick #4 the Magic are at the mercy of the other teams in the draft. Now if you believe that Parker is the man for the Magic then common sense would suggest the only way that will happen is to trade with the Bucks at #2 take Parker and the Bucks take Exum at #4 and move Knight to the 2 spot. If you believe that Dragic is the type of player the Magic need then propose a trade between the Magic and the Suns with Aaron Afflalo they both have matching salaries and similar successful seasons and would allow both teams a more traditional PG/SG line up. If You believe that the Magic should go in a different direction and select a PF with the #4 pick then suggest picking Vonleh or Randle and Ennis or Stauskas at 12 instead the were a whole lot of mentions about players that the Magic can’t have an none about the players they can.

    • Orlandorandomreader

      Lord, I feel like I just watched Star Wars, Family guy, Kate plus eight, and the local news all within 10 seconds, I don’t know what kind of ride that was.

  • Osceola71

    I’d go with Julius Randle at the 4 spot. At twelve, Exum and Smart will probably be gone, but you will still have Ennis, Napier, Elfrid Payton (who has been said to be outplaying Smart at the team workouts) and Kyle Anderson. I would love to see Anderson on the Magic; people seem worried about his SloMo reputation, but the league plays mostly half court sets anyway, and from I’ve seen he can get out there on a fast break when need be. I think his potential as a mini Magic Johnson is too good to pass up and I think he would kill on a pick and roll with his ability to see over the defenders.

  • SotehPR

    I completely disagree with your opinion. Exum IS the guy! Youll see in two years time!

  • fallin460855

    Basically all this dude is saying is that the Magic should go for one of the “Big Three” of the draft if they are available.


    The whole reason why everybody is talking about Exum to the Magic is because they are at no. 4 pick and he’s the consensus best pick at that position. OF COURSE if one of the top three drops to us (with the POSSIBLE exception of Embiid) we are going to snatch them up like bacon after a 3 year famine! He’s not making any case at all for any of the players behind Exum on the draft boards, merely singing the praises of Parker and Wiggins, and that’s not going to make his point strong.

  • Orlandorandomreader

    Please watch basketball before writing about it

  • Luke Duffy

    Hi everybody, thanks a lot for the comments, I appreciate them all! I think it’s great that most of you disagree and some of you kind of agree with me on this. On the night, I do believe Julius Randle will still be available, and for me personally I’d like to see Orlando go in that direction. Michael Cunningham made the excellent point about getting DJ Augustin off the back of his really solid year, and as I mentioned above I would rather see a veteran PG join the team.

    As for Exum’s talent, well of course it’s there otherwise he wouldn’t be entering the draft! JD is right to point out that all players are unproven before entering the league, and that there is always going to be a risk involved in who you draft. (Darko Milicic anyone?) I’m just willing to pass on whatever potential he may have, and be prepared for a lot of people to say they told me so down the line. Thanks again for commenting and keep them coming too!

  • CJ

    You lose all credibility by stating Harkless ‘is a potentially brilliant Big’. I also find it odd that you want to swing a veteran point guard. Nelson is a veteran point guard. Afflalo is a veteran guard. PG is our biggest need and there is no doubt the Magic will take Exum. He reminds soo much of Anfernee Hardaway. Long athletic PG who gets to the rim. Those kinds of PG’s are few and far between. There was actually a similar guy like that in last years class… Michael Carter Williams. DRAFT EXUM or we will regret it for a long time. Use the #12 on an athletic aggressive rebounding PF.

  • Justin Beach

    I’m ok with randle but I like vonleh more potential there and I love peyton at 12 I think that guy is gonna be a big deal in a couple of years

  • Jason Bellamy

    The two people you are suggesting we draft will probably be gone by the time the magic are on the clock. Also, we do not need to win now. We are building smart and making moves. Bringing in a veteran point guard, who will probably be off the team in three years when we are actually ready to compete, will not help us. We have Nelson who can mentor exum if we do draft him. Exum is the smart play for the magic.

  • jveeuion

    The only guy other than Exum I could see the Magic taking is Noah Vonleh who has the potential to be a great 2 way player