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NBA Draft Scouting: Josh Giddey

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The young Aussie would bring value to the Thunder

Nigeria v Australia Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Physicals:

Height - 6’8

Weight - 200 lbs

Wingspan - 6’8

Josh Giddey is an interesting player in the Draft who seems to fit neatly with the Thunder. Sam Presti has prioritised length and playmaking in his construction of this next era of Thunder basketball. Giddey possesses both of those attributes and would play as a point forward for Oklahoma City.

Giddey is one of the youngest prospects in the Draft and spent last season playing in Australia for the Adelaide 36ers. The NBL, Australia’s top basketball league, has become a hot spot for young players to develop their skills away from college ball. The unusual thing about Giddey is that he is a homegrown player rather than the usual American import.

Giddey’s path is the closest thing to a star player that Australia has had in quite some time. Josh was very good in the junior levels of the game and was named MVP of the Basketball Without Borders camp that was held in Chicago on All-Star Weekend 2020.

The NBL is a physical, bruising league for young players. For a young player to do well, they have to grow up quickly and play their best game. LaMelo Ball came to the NBL and had a target on his back from Day One. Ball did not run from adversity and played like a superstar for the Illawara Hawks.

Giddey did the same. He came into the Adelaide 36ers and showed a lot of maturity as he was entrusted with the offense. Giddey was a floor general at times and consistently found ways to create for his teammates. It was impressive in a grown man’s league.

As players go, I would say that Josh Giddey is one of the best passers in this Draft. Giddey has an innate understanding of angles and finds those funky passes that dissect a defense. These weird angles open up passing windows that even NBA veterans do not find. Giddey is a creative, accurate distributor who can be relied upon to run the offense in the half-court and the open floor.

Giddey is ambidextrous and is more than capable at using either hand to dish the ball off to teammates when he is running in transition. Josh’s interpretation of space is one of the reasons why he is so effective in the half-court; he just finds and exploits gaps in the defense.

Josh’s other strength is his inside scoring; Giddey has a soft touch around the rim and uses his body well to open up scoring angles. Giddey’s feel for the game is impressive and compensates for his limited athleticism.

Giddey moves fluidly but I would not say that he is fast. Moreover, Josh Giddey lacks explosive burst off the dribble. Giddey having a turn of pace and a control of tempo helps him break down a defense but a good first step is always a useful tool for gaining separation from the defense.

Josh’s frame is also concerning. Giddey is pretty skinny at just 200 lbs and he does not necessarily have the physique which would suggest that he will gain a lot of strength as his career progresses. I am worried that Giddey will struggle to take contact particularly when he drives to the rim.

A guy like Jae Crowder is a physical, intense defensive player who will use his muscle to bully his assignment. Giddey will be bumped in these match-ups and his lack of strength could mean that the ball gets dislodged from his control too easily.

Giddey is also a poor shooter and this will limit his effectiveness as a playmaker in the NBA. In transition, his shooting will not be an issue but in the half-court Giddey’s effectiveness will be severely limited. Defenses will back off Giddey and clog the painted area.

The painted area being clogged means that Josh Giddey will struggle to get to the rim, an efficient scoring zone for him, and his passing opportunities are limited. A crowded interior will prevent dishes to the big down low or even to the corner shooter. For Giddey to be effective in the half-court, he would have been perfect on nearly every single read.

We have seen the same story with elite non-shooting playmakers before. Rajon Rondo and Ben Simmons both cannot unlock the full extent of their passing game due to their poor shooting. Russell Westbrook somehow makes it work but that is due to Westbrook’s stubborn intensity.

Recently, Josh Giddey did a film breakdown with ESPN which is rather informative in explaining his game and he operates as a player.

Giddey’s maturity as a passer stood out to me when I have watched his film. Josh plays like a veteran floor general with the way that he controls the pace of the game and manipulates the defense with his dribble.

Giddey lulls the defense to sleep by playing slowly in a similar sort of manner to Kyle Anderson, the Grizzlies forward. He then uses a turn of pace to catch the defense by surprise and gains separation. Once Giddey gets that separation, he is comfortable reading the floor and making the right path.

The control of pace is arguably Giddey’s greatest strength when it comes to breaking down a defense. In an odd way, Josh Giddey reminds me of a fast bowler in how he uses pace to dissect defense. Whenever you watch a guy like Mitchell Starc or Jofra Archer, they use changes in speed to beat the batsmen and knock stumps out of the ground.

Giddey’s potent passing is complemented by his inside scoring. His body control allows Josh to hang in the air and find awkward angles where he can score but the defense struggles to contest him. I am concerned about Giddey taking contact but providing that he can dodge the defense with his contortionism, I am comfortable with his scoring at the rim.

Giddey shot just 29.3% from downtown last season. In the NBL, Giddey’s poor shooting did not limit his impact greatly for the simple fact that Josh was able to use his frame to bypass defenses and get to the hole. The athletic level of the NBA is higher and Giddey will not get any easy lanes to the rim.

Giddey’s mechanics are inconsistent, slow and somewhat mechanical at the moment. He does not look like he trusts his own shot when he releases the ball. Josh will need to spend a lot of time developing this aspect of his game. He might still be a decent player without being a reliable shooter from downtown but his ceiling will be limited.

Giddey’s fit on the Thunder roster is pretty clean. It is easy to envision Josh as being the second playmaker on the floor next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Giddey will need to be on the ball to be valuable for the Thunder which will mean that Shai will not always have the ball in his hands.

Floor spacing will be tricky in the short-term until Giddey fixes his shot. A starting lineup with just one above average 3-point shooter will struggle to be efficient offensively. Even now, I do not know whether Giddey is the right fit next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

As a whole, Josh Giddey is an intriguing point forward who will have value as a tall playmaker for the team that drafts him. Giddey has holes in his game which need to be fixed but it is not unreasonable to suggest that he could be a useful role player on a decent team.