The Utah Jazz are locked in a tight battle for the eighth seed in the Western Conference and their playoff push could receive a big boost with the return of Dante Exum.
MORE: Celtics ‘will tread slowly’ regarding Kyrie Irving injury’s sore knee
According to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune, the Jazz are planning on bringing Exum back into the fold this week. The Australian point guard spent the whole season to date rehabbing from shoulder surgery after suffering a separated shoulder in pre-season.
Exum’s return comes at the perfect time for the Jazz who yesterday announced that backup point guard Raul Neto will miss at least the next two weeks after an MRI revealed a fracture in his left wrist after Utah’s 116-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The 22-year-old has been participating in two-on-two and three-on-three scrimmages at practice and according to Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune, Jazz coach Quin Snyder has been impressed by Exum’s progress.
“We’re continuing to monitor how he’s doing, but there’s not been a lot of contact in practice because of the games,” Snyder said. “But he’s involved in everything we can get involved in.”
Exum appeared in 66 games (26 starts) last season for Utah, averaging a career-high 6.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 18.6 minutes per game.
Additionally, he saw action in seven 2017 NBA Playoff games, averaging 4.6 points and 1.3 assists in 12.0 minutes per game.
The Jazz are currently riding high on a six-game winning streak and have won 18 of their last 20 games, but remain locked in a three-way battle for the eighth seed with the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets.
With the current form of Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz’s backcourt has been instrumental in their recent run and adding Exum to the fold could give them the extra depth they need for the playoffs.