Josh Giddey made history on Wednesday night.
The Australian rookie was again called upon to fill Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s shoes on Wednesday night, and he once again put on a show.
Giddey finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, which was enough for him to hit yet another landmark.
Wednesday’s performance meant Giddey joined LaMelo Ball and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history who reached 100 rebounds and 100 assists in their first 20 games as a teenager.
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said he’s been pleased with Giddey’s performances without Gilgeous-Alexander, but he’s not that surprised.
“He was a point guard growing up and obviously we drafted him knowing that we had the position filled in the lineup betting on those two guys character and their intelligence and their ability to kind of coexist and help each other thrive,” Daigneault said after the game on Wednesday. “And that’s been ongoing and we have to continue to grow in that way. But with Shai out, it allows him to kind of slip back into that role.
“… He did a good job against a really high quality defense.”
While James and Ball are obviously in two very different stages of their career, both players were able to build off their fast start to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award, an honor Giddey would love to capture.
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Giddey may need some help to get there, however.
Though he’s undoubtedly been one of the top performers from his draft class this year, Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley have also enjoyed nice starts to their rookie campaigns.
Thankfully for Giddey, while the Thunder have cooled off since their four-game winning streak, neither Toronto or Cleveland are exactly tearing it up in the Eastern Conference.
The rookie will also have one of the league’s best point guard beside him to both set Giddey up but also take the attention away from him defensively.
Giddey has enjoyed his time running the show, but he’s ready to get Gilgeous-Alexander back alongside him in the starting lineup so he can continue to grow and form a bond with Gilgeous-Alexander on the floor he hopes will last.
“I’m comfortable in those situations, but obviously Shai’s only been out for a small period of time so I’m going to have to keep learning how to play off the ball more,” Giddey said. “Hopefully me and Shai get paired together for a long, long time so it’s something we’re going to have to work together with.
“… It’s obviously fun to have the ball late in games and making plays, but also realizing when you’re playing alongside a superstar like that, you’re going to have to be ready to make catch-and-shoot shots and space the floor and let him do his thing.”