Patience is a virtue, but not one that always pays off. In terms of the NBA, there’s been empirical evidence to suggest that waiting is often the wrong choice. Franchises have repeatedly made the mistake of holding onto hope for a player or core for too long.
The Minnesota Timberwolves spent years building around Andrew Wiggins as an organizational cornerstone, only for him to win a championship with the Golden State Warriors shortly after as a glorified role player.
Speaking of the Dubs, they kept the band together after their 2022 title run and are seeing the consequences of their loyalty now, as Wiggins, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green have all severely regressed, causing their trade values to diminish significantly. The Portland Trail Blazers spent a decade retreading their roster around Damian Lillard but waited too long to get aggressive.
By the time they were ready to make big moves, his patience with the franchise had worn out, and they wound up trading him away to the Milwaukee Bucks and were forced to launch a rebuild.
Every now and then, though, a team or player shows the world that waiting would have paid off. Golden State may have held on for a year or two too long, but their patience and loyalty did culminate in a championship in 2022, perhaps the most rewarding title of their dynastic run.
The Orlando Magic are currently enjoying the spoils of two different reclamation projects that their previous teams gave up on too early: Wendell Carter Jr. from the Chicago Bulls and Markelle Fultz from the Philadelphia 76ers.
The newest example of a late bloomer in the NBA has come in the form of Dante Exum, who’s playing the best basketball of his career nine years after he was initially drafted in 2014.
After having to spend two seasons playing overseas in Spain, the Dallas Mavericks gave him a chance to be a reserve guard at the end of their bench this year.
Dante Exum vs San Antonio Spurs
— A Walking Highlight (@11AWH) December 24, 2023
It turned out that Dallas’s guard depth was much shakier than they initially expected, with Seth Curry and Jaden Hardy particularly underwhelming so far, and Exum was given opportunities to prove himself to be a reliable backup for Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.
So far, he’s performed better than anyone could have expected. He’s shooting a career-high from the field, playing solid ball on both ends of the court, and has only been trending up with more playing time, capped off by a 26-point outing against the Los Angeles Lakers in a win.
Still only 28 years old, it’ll be exciting to see if he can continue to grow in his newfound role.
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| Title: Dante Exum showing that patience can pay off in the NBA
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: Dec 26, 2023