What if Dante Exum falls to the Celtics with the 6th pick?

Graham Denholm

This would be a good thing, right?

I've long assumed that Dante Exum was the default number 4 on the draft boards around the country and a virtual lock to go to the Orlando Magic.  However, the latest Draft Express mock has the Magic picking Marcus Smart and the Jazz picking Noah Vonleh.  Which means Exum falls to the Celtics and that's where he's picked.

Granted, this is a mock draft and there's no telling exactly what the logic here is, but I suppose it could happen.  I've read before that the Magic had been high on Smart before they started focusing on Exum, so they could still be undecided.  At the very least, they'll get a good look at Exum today.

Dante Exum will work out for the Magic on Tuesday - Orlando Sentinel

The Orlando Magic have reached a critical point in their preparation for the 2014 NBA Draft: the arrival of Australian guard Dante Exum. Exum will work out Tuesday at Amway Center. The importance of the Magic’s pre-draft workouts in Orlando typically is overstated, but Exum’s upcoming workout could be the exception. Magic executives and scouts probably have seen Exum play in-person fewer times than any other high-level prospect in this year’s draft.

So what happens if this mock draft actually happens and the Celtics pick Exum.  I have to admit, he's one guy that I've done the least amount of research on (in part because there's so little out there about him).  In addition to Kevin's excellent draft guide, I found this blurb.

Prospect Watch: NBA teams falling in love with Dante Exum - NBA - Peter Bukowski - SI.com

Exum has shown the foot speed to beat guards off the dribble and frequently get to the rim. His first step is absolutely lethal. He also possesses a 6-foot-9 wingspan and while he isn't explosive dunker, he can finish around the rim with an array of moves with either hand. Unfortunately, Exum has the same issue as another elite point guard in this draft, Marcus Smart: the mechanics on his shot are not consistent, and as a result, neither is his jump shot. The good news for Exum is that NBA teams love to take chances on ultra-talented guards with his size, even with questionable jumpers. The success of the similarly built and talented Michael Carter-Williams in Philadelphia only enhances Exum's case.

He certainly sounds like a good potential player.  I've read before that he might have one of the top 2 or 3 upsides in the draft.  There's certainly some risk with as little as we've seen him play, but at number 6 you can't be too picky.

On a more general level, the ramifications of picking either Smart or Exum in the draft are worth pondering.  Do they play enough off guard or are they willing to come along slowly off the bench behind Rajon Rondo?  Would it signal the team's openness to trade Rondo?

Or more likely, would it be a value pick that could be attractive on the trade market even after the draft?  If the pick isn't dealt by the end of the night, there's still value in picking a high upside player and either flipping him that summer or letting him develop and trading him when there's more value.  You could even keep him around as an insurance policy in case Rondo leaves town as an unrestricted free agent next season.

But there's a lot of road ahead of us before we have to worry about all of that.  Right now the draft (and any rumors that pop up) is the focus.  If Exum is the best player available, I'd be fine picking him and seeing how good he can become.

What do you think? Who is your top 6 (in order)?

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