Josh Giddey’s path to the NBA is one already trodden.
The top prospect in the NBL whose knack for playmaking and passing earned him a coveted spot near the top of the NBA Draft. Where have we heard this before?
Hornet’s guard Lamelo Ball, presently one of the hottest names in basketball, opted to forego college and spend his pre-NBA career overseas.
Ball starred for the Illawarra Hawks of the NBL, averaging 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 12 games. He was one of the most electric players in the league, winning NBL Rookie of the Year en route to being the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Giddey, thus far, has followed a similar route.
Coming out of the NBA Academy, Giddey starred for the Adelaide 36ers. He wasn’t as potent a scorer as Ball, averaging 10.9 points per contest, but was right at or above Ball’s level as a passer and rebounder. He led the league with 7.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Giddey, like Ball, also won NBL Rookie of the Year.
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Ball’s time in Australia proved to be valuable. His skills translated perfectly to the NBA, as he averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds en route to an impressive Rookie of the Year winning season.
Now, it’s Giddey’s turn to attempt a seamless transition. Standing at 6-foot-9, his passing and rebounding seem translatable skills. His scoring however, could be a different story.
Ball has never been a shy shooter. Despite shooting a worse 3-point clip than Giddey in the NBL, he took quite a few more shots per game, and that confidence carried over perfectly to the NBA. From three-point land, the rookie shot 25 percent on 6.7 attempts in the NBL and 35 percent on 5.1 attempts in the NBA.
Should Giddey replicate Ball’s improvements, the Thunder will have a star on their hands.
Giddey is a much less confident shooter. He’s thus far had a low and slow release, but has been determined to improve in that area. In pre-draft interviews, Giddey was vocal in saying his biggest areas of improvement are perimeter shooting and defense.
Giddey will make his Thunder debut at the 2021 NBA Summer League on Sunday, Aug. 8 at 7:30 p.m.