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Aussie Exum brings intriguing talent, plus a little controversy

POSTED: May 16, 2014 4:45 PM ET

By Scott Howard-Cooper

BY Scott Howard-Cooper


— Trying to end one round of speculation while potentially starting another, Dante Exum insisted Thursday he will not pressure lottery teams to pass on him in hopes of getting to the Lakers -- but also said he may tell certain clubs not to draft him June 26.

The difference, the 18-year-old Australian point guard said while meeting the media as part of the pre-draft combine, is that while it doesn't necessarily have to be the Lakers, he does hope to have a say on who picks him.

"Obviously the Lakers are a great organization, but I'm in this draft to go to a place where I feel best at, that is a good fit for me," he said. "Whatever team that is is the best place for me."

Combine: Dante Exum

Exum's Los Angeles-based agent, Rob Pelinka also represents Kobe Bryant, a connection that has helped fuel talk that Exum prefers the Lakers, but the Australian said his position has been "twisted" by the media.

"There's no one team that I really want to go to," he said.

There may be ones Exum does not want to go to, though. He acknowledged that he and Pelinka could send a message if they declined individual workout invitations from certain teams.

"I guess in a way," Exum said. "Me and my agent have a plan and if that's not a part of my plan and where I want to go, then I guess so."

That, of course, still might not prevent him from being drafted by one of those teams.

"I want to go to a team that there's a good team chemistry or somewhere I can fit right into," he said. "Point guard or no point guard, it doesn't really matter. I'm willing to go into a role where I can learn or learn from experience. I guess there's really no bad situation, but there are better situations. I would make the best of the situation. Talking about the best fit for me and a situation I don't like isn't so much a bad situation, I would still be on an NBA team, an NBA roster."

Holding out in an attempt to force a trade is not in the plans.

"No, I don't think so," Exum said. "I would have to be a horrible situation and I don't see that with any teams."

The son of Cecil Exum, a member of North Carolina's 1982 national championship team and a 1984 ninth-round choice by the Nuggets before building a career in Australia, is No. 5 in the rankings. He had a star turn in the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit against top high school seniors and increased his standing by playing very well that summer at the under-19 world championships in Prague, before returning to Australia to finish high school against weak competition.

Front offices are intrigued by Exum, who boasts surprising maturity, an ankle-breaking first step as part of a package of elite athleticism and the ability to play point guard at 6-6 and be a terror in transition. He should sell tickets and comes across as a great guy who will be immediately popular in any city.

But a lot of executives and scouts don't see him as a true playmaker and worry about his ability to run an offense, saying he is more of a scorer as a combo guard than a true point. Exum is not a consistent shooter, so playing him off the ball would be a challenge. The high ceiling is obvious, though, with the physical skills and early success in international competitions a very promising start.