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How Does Josh Giddey Stack up Against Former Thunder First-Rounders?

Josh Giddey has impressed out of the gates, but see where he fits compared to the franchise's best draft picks
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Since the Seattle SuperSonics franchise-altering draft in June 2007 — taking Kevin Durant second and trading for fifth-overall selection Jeff Green — the ‘Sonics/ Thunder have had a litany of first round draft picks. 

Some Hall of Fame home runs (Russell Westbrook), some singles (Reggie Jackson) and some that feel like a fever dream rather than a strikeout (Terrance Ferguson).

The Thunder took two more swings in the first round with the 2021 NBA draft — Taking Josh Giddey sixth-overall and Tre Mann at No. 18, but it is the former that is having one of the franchises best starts to date.

With the Thunder (8-19) in no hurry to get back to title contention, Giddey has seen plenty of playing time through his first 25 games with only Durant surpassing his 29.9 minutes per game as a rookie.

Giddey, the Western Conference’s Rookie of the Month for November, is one of only three Thunder rookies to start their first 25 games alongside Durant and Damontas Sabonis.

So, here's a look at where Giddey ranks amongst former Thunder rookies through their first 25 games:

Scoring

The Thunder have been blessed, maybe more than any other franchise, since 2007 with finding brilliant scorers in the draft — taking home six of the last 12 NBA scoring titles between Durant and Westbrook.

Giddey has yet to surpass the 20-point threshold in his professional career with the Thunder and the NBL’s Adelaide 36ers, but he has shown flashes of being able to out-smart defenders as he finds his footing on offense.

Giddey’s 10.7 points per contest trails both Durant (19.7) and Westbrook (12.9), but comes in third for Thunder rookies ahead of James Harden’s 9.5 and Mitch McGary’s 7 per game.

He is still trying to find his footing from behind the arc, shooting just 24.4% which ranks eighth among Thunder rookies that attempted at least one per game.

Rebounding

Point guards traditionally wouldn’t be mentioned in the rebounding discussion as anything more than a footnote, but at 6-foot-8 Giddey possesses the size and smarts to out-rebound his fair share of NBA big men.

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Giddey isn’t quite the athletic phenomenon that Westbrook is at the guard spot or anywhere close to being one of the league's strongest players like a Serge Ibaka or Steven Adams.

Instead, he is what I’d describe as a “feel” player in almost every aspect of his game. Whether it be pulling off a spin move for a layup or his audacious passes, he trusts his instincts to guide him to the right decisions.

Perhaps no part of his game is more reliant on “feel” than his position and timing on rebounds.

He leads not only his team this season, but all thunder rookies at this mark with 6.8 rebounds.

It’s his impressive rebounding as a guard that allowed him to be the first ever Thunder rookie to have four games of 10+ points, 7+ rebounds and 7+ assists. An achievement not even Westbrook, the NBA’s triple double king, accomplished in his rookie campaign.

Passing

Giddey might just be the most gifted passer the Thunder have ever rostered. His brash style and ever-evolving bag of passing capabilities have him possessing a skillset rarely seen in the NBA. It’s what’s helped him “get” the NBA game so quickly.

He is averaging 5.9 assists per game, a number only Westbrook (4.2) had even approached at this point.

Giddey is such a skilled passer he can occasionally seem like he’s on autopilot — making passes most players wouldn’t dream of attempting seem routine.

The issue, however, is sometimes that autopilot can get him into some trouble.

The obvious downside that can come with a player as simultaneously inexperienced and daring as Giddey is turnovers. He is averaging 2.9 per game — a number that only Durant (3.3) surpassed through 25 games.

Giddey has a long way to go to reach the heights of Durant, Westbrook and Harden, but with the Thunder primed to potentially add three more first-round talents in this upcoming draft, next season’s rookies will have a hard time following up the blistering pace he has set. 


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