Cavs: In his minutes, Dante Exum should ideally be on floor with Dylan Windler

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) /

In his minutes-share for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dante Exum, especially, should be on the floor with key shooters.

I’m still skeptical of Dante Exum feasibly being a long term piece for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Exum’s not a player that should be relied on to provide a big scoring punch in his minutes-share, as he has a career average of 5.7 points in 18.5 minutes per outing, most of which has been with the Utah Jazz.

Exum has had his share of struggles with the injury bug as well, and he missed all of 2015-16 due to an ACL tear, and has had prior shoulder problems. Exum was only active in 14 games in 2017-18, too, and leading into the novel coronavirus-induced hiatus, Exum had a high ankle sprain and missed what would ultimately be the Cavs’ last eight games of 2019-20. That was set to be much more than an eight-game stretch it seemed, too.

In instances when Exum is healthy, he could be a good defensive piece for Cleveland’s perimeter player rotation, and does do a pretty nice job of containing drivers/contesting shooters in his minutes on the floor.

That’s the key positive in regards to Exum, from the Cavs’ perspective, and that specifically is a crucial reason as to why KJG’s Mason Cole believes Exum and Collin Sexton should get more minutes together as a backcourt pairing next season.

Granted, for a guard, Exum is pretty limited in regards to his ability to generate separation off-the-bounce, and he is a career 30.8 percent three-point shooter. That doesn’t result in him being a floor spacing presence, which doesn’t help his case for consistent minutes, from my viewpoint, although when he is healthy, Exum is a decent straight-line driver and can at times attack off-the-bounce when he gets switches.

To his credit, too, Exum is a pretty good finisher and in terms of off-ball, his cutting instincts are lead to some high percentage looks for him when he’s out there, realistically from Kevin Porter Jr. or Larry Nance Jr., for instance.

To me, though, one player in particular should be on the floor when Exum is out there for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that’s Dylan Windler, ideally.

To me, to help space the floor for Exum in his rotational minutes, Dylan Windler should ideally be on the floor with him. Of course, Windler did not play at all in 2019-20 due to complications involving a stress reaction in his left leg, which was really unfortunate for Windler and the Cavs.

According to a recent report from’s Chris Fedor, Windler did say that he is “feeling good,” in relation to that, and considering that next season will begin in early December at the earliest and could reportedly even begin in March, I’d imagine Windler should be plenty fine. Windler will take some time to get his legs under him, if you will, but again, I believe he’ll end up proving to be a regular bench contributor, and pretty early on, too.

Windler could be a sharpshooter for the Cavaliers, and as Fedor alluded to, some within the Cavs organization believed that had he been healthy last season, that he could’ve potentially overtaken Cedi Osman as Cleveland’s starting 3 near halfway through this now-past season.

I believe that Windler could feasibly take on that role at some point next season, because he’s frankly more capable on-ball than Osman, and is a polished pull-up shooter, finisher and is a good secondary playmaker. But either way, Windler should get his share of minutes as a key bench contributor, if he’s mostly healthy, and again, when Exum is on the floor for Cleveland, Windler should be in there with him.

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Windler hit 40.6 percent of his 534 three-point attempts in a four-year collegiate career at Belmont, including 42.9 percent of his 7.1 deep ball attempts per game as a senior.

With him, at least a decent portion of next season it would seem, and Exum certainly being bench contributors, when Exum’s out there, he would have a great drive-and-kick threat in stretches in Windler.

Windler could help space the floor well for Exum, to reiterate, who is better off on attempts closer to the rim when they come.

Windler could aid the Cleveland Cavaliers by being a really good shooter in early clock off of Exum handoffs right after those, too, with his deep range.

A counter to that for Exum could be faking those, and going right into a baseline drive, or driving into the teeth of the defense, and perhaps hitting Nance for a lob or Porter/Sexton for a cutting layup.

Exum could theoretically hit Windler himself on the weak side for a corner triple after cutting through to that point at times, also.

Additionally, with Windler being a willing and highly capable passer, as was mentioned, he could hit Exum for in-rhythm straight-line drives at times and/or cuts.

Anyway, while Windler will not physically always be on the floor with Exum when the latter’s out there for the Cavaliers, in terms of a rotational sense, ideally, Windler will be on the hardwood when Exum is. Perhaps that could on occasion be with Windler at the 2, and Cedi Osman at the 3, or Auburn’s Isaac Okoro, for example, who I believe could be an upgrade over Osman at the 3, at least definitely defensively.

Windler and Exum both, though, need to be healthy. Looking forward, I’m anything but certain that Exum, who is set to be expiring after next season, can be a meaningful long term piece for Cleveland, and I’m not on a huge fan of his, honestly.

Next. Two bold predictions for Dylan Windler for next season. dark

But to help get the most out of Exum in his minutes on the floor, Windler should ideally be on the floor with Exum for the Cavs. Hopefully that’s mostly the case when looking at next season.