NBA Draft 2014: Can Exum and MCW Work?

Apr 12, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown talks with guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) during the second half against the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Bobcats defeated the 76ers 111-105. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

With less than a week until the NBA Draft Lottery, Philadelphia will finally find out if all the tanking was worth it. All the double-digit losses that accumulated a 60-plus loss season.  Will it be the first pick in the draft? The second? Third? Fourth, maybe fifth? That will all be revealed on Tuesday night, then the NBA Draft 2014 will finally happen about a month later. THE WAITING IS ALMOST OVER.

The names Michael Carter-Williams and Dante Exum have been a hot topic for 76ers fans recently. Even I wondered if the two can coexist in a back court. Now, it’s time to answer that question from the other side. Rather than trading Michael Carter-Williams, keeping him and Exum would appear like more of a reality than trading the Rookie of the Year.

Per, the Sixers and Sam Hinkie have studied Dante Exum intently. Need more? Brett Brown invited Exum to play on the Australian National Team when Exum was only 15. Exum is the biggest question in the 2014 NBA Draft, but the kid is expected to be a top-five selection for a reason. He’s drawn comparisons to Penny Hardaway, which should be enough to sell anyone on this kid’s upside. Give me Penny without the injuries and I’ll take him No. 1 overall.

The only problem is that few people have seen Exum play a full basketball game. Most of us have been restricted to YouTube highlight films or low quality cuts of this young stud. Hailing from Australia is the problem for this and the fact that Exum decided not to attend college after graduating from high school. The sample size of film for Exum is small, but the sample is good.

Exum was apart of the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit last April, which was televised on ESPN.  Exum scored 16 points in the exhibition. It should be noted that Exum played two guard in the Nike Hoops Summit, as Dennis Schroder played the point. Exum is more comfortable as a point guard, but he does have the ability to play the two slot.

If you weren’t aware, Exum is a 6-foot-6, 188 lb point guard. Sounds a lot like Michael Carter-Williams right? Exum is long, explosive, and as athletic as they come. These reasons are why some people believe that the duo of MCW and Exum can’t work, but shouldn’t the Sixers try it first? This duo, along with Nerlens Noel would create quite the wingspan in Philadelphia.

exumHowever, there are reasons why this back court may not be the best option. As we all know, Michael Carter-Williams isn’t scaring anyone with his jump shot. Let’s add the fact that Dante Exum might be the furthest thing from Bradley Beal shooting wise and there’s a problem. A back court that doesn’t scare anyone from the perimeter means the paint is going to be packed at all times, making it harder for Nerlens Noel to thrive in his rookie campaign. There are reasons why sharp shooting two guards are so popular in this league. Just look at the career’s of Ray Allen, Klay Thompson and Bradley Beal if an example is needed.

For once, let’s try and look on the positive side of things. Having two 6-foot-6 guards in the back court can be an excellent problem. These two would create havoc for opposing teams and if Nerlens Noel works out as a top flight rim protector, this could be a nasty defense. Defense wins championships, right? Especially in the playoffs, where everything become slower and defense trumps offense. The “fun” teams that score a bunch of points and fail to defend, never seem to win it all. Those tough nosed defensive teams come out on top. Adding Dante Exum to the core of Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel could make the Sixers a defensive stalwart in a few years.

Obviously, for this combination to work long term, one of them will have to develop a reliable jump shot. Jason Kidd did it in the latter stages of his career, so it’s definitely possible. If that happens, then this duo will really be able to take flight. Carter-Williams shot 26 percent from deep in his rookie season, taking about three per game. He’s not going to turn into Steph Curry, but something in the mid 30’s would be respectable enough for opposing defenses to have to check MCW from deep.

In the short term, both can be explosive guards that excel at getting to the rim and in transition. The jumper might not develop right away, but the pure upside of these two is exciting.

Everything about Exum can be registered with a question mark. Exum is participating in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago this week, so more information should be revealed about the intriguing prospect.

Should the Sixers take Exum? If they fall to No. 3-5, I’d be a fan of the selection. I’d rather have Michael Carter-Williams and Dante Exum in the backcourt, instead of Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel in the front court. MCW/Exum has a better chance of working than the latter. If Wiggins and Parker are gone, Dante Exum might make the most sense as the next pick if the Sixers are up.

Do you think the 76ers can make sense of a Dante Exum and Michael Carter-Williams back court?



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