Cleveland Cavaliers: Grading Dante Exum’s 2019-20 play thus far

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dante Exum looks for an outlet. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dante Exum looks for an outlet. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Dante Exum, Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dante Exum defends on the ball. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Taking a look at Exum’s defensive play

When Exum has been healthy for the Cavaliers, he’s been competent in terms of his on-ball defense against 1’s and 2’s, and has been a willing and pretty able rotator to shooters.

Exum is not a player who has nearly the twitchy athleticism of say, Kevin Porter Jr., but Exum anticipates drives fairly well when in on-ball defensive matchups and in pick-and-roll coverage.

In that realm, Dante’s done an admirable job walling off ball-handlers from trying to penetrate when they are looking to do so, too.

In rotational minutes, that’s been a plus when Exum has been able to go for Cleveland, especially when Darius Garland has typically had all kinds of trouble in his on-ball matchups defensively.

In the team sense, Exum he’s done a commendable job contesting and seems to usually take the right angles to help and also get back to his primary matchup. That sort of thing is good to see for a bench contributor, even with Exum with the Cavs in not much game action to this point.

At times, though, Exum can have issues it seems with more physical matchups against stronger wings, and while he generally takes the right angles mostly to get through off-ball screens, there can be mix-ups occasionally.

Grading Exum’s defense with Cleveland thus far in 2019-20: B+

Exum has been very steady defensively with the Cavs to this point, and though he’s not going to make a huge impact in terms of swiping away tons of passes it seems, him having 1.1 steals per-36 minutes shows he has the instincts off-ball Cleveland’s looking for.

He’s been disciplined in his contests, and again, has been a willing and productive rotator that’s helped out pieces such as Matthew Dellavedova, Nance and Sexton.