Breaking down Josh Giddey's debut as an Adelaide 36er

At 18, NBL Next Star Josh Giddey made his debut in the NBL preseason against the Brisbane Bullets. Here's how it went down.

18 year old point guard Josh Giddey, one of the NBL’s newest Next Stars, gave fans a glimpse into his potential throughout the league’s opening preseason games. The Adelaide 36er played a key role in his team’s back-to-back victories, both of which were achieved with double-digit margins over the Brisbane Bullets.

Adelaide has also signed veteran point guard Donald Sloan, who spent five years in the NBA, but the American import is still yet to arrive. Giddey was hence given a chance to run the show, and showed poise beyond his years as the 36ers’ primary ball-handler. He finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists (13/8/6) in the first game, before backing up this performance with 9 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the second - all while playing close to 25 minutes each night.

Giddey started the first preseason game —and his 36ers career— with something we infrequently saw from him as a junior: a mid-range jumper. The rise of analytics, led by basketball minds such as Philadelphia 76ers executive Daryl Morey, has contributed to the decline of the mid-range shot, in favour of three-pointers and layups.

However, the in-between game still offers great unpredictability, and it’s something Giddey embraced against the Bullets. The 18 year old was aggressive from mid-range, scoring Adelaide’s first points in the first game with a swish from the top of the key. If he continues to develop this aspect of his game, Giddey will become an even greater scoring threat inside the arc.

Giddey’s passing ability truly sets him apart from other prospects. While representing Victoria, he led the 2020 Under-20 Australian Junior Championships in assists (7.9 per game), despite being a double bottom-ager. The guard was doing what he does best against the Bullets, finding open shooters on the perimeter, as well as teammates in the paint.

Giddey isn’t afraid to use his off hand when driving to the hoop, and this was on show against the Bullets. The Next Star came up with a couple of left hand finishes in the first game, highlighting another skill which gives him an edge over many of his contemporaries.

Giddey doesn’t shy away from contact at the rim, as evidenced by the fouls he drew against the Bullets. The lanky point guard might not be Steve Nash, but he will definitely punish opposing teams that send him to the foul line.

The Adelaide Next Star is a stat sheet stuffer, and often ranks among his team’s top rebounders despite being a point guard. Against the Bullets, he showed flashes of his presence on the glass, even in contested situations.

Giddey was measured to have a 6'7.5" wingspan at the 2019 NBA Academy games, and this length gives him the ability to disrupt passing lanes. The rising star showed glimpses of active hands in the first game against Brisbane, indicating that his impact won’t be limited to the offensive end.

Overall, Giddey handled his defensive assignments well and did not give up very many baskets. However, there were instances where he was beaten off the dribble, and screens (understandably) left him caught out of position at times. With additional experience at the professional level, Giddey can only improve his defensive awareness.

Overall, Giddey has given 36ers fans plenty to look forward to. Even with Donald Sloan’s arrival, the Next Star may force Adelaide coach Conner Henry’s hand, and command a significant role with performances like these. It’s only a matter of time before NBA teams start to look down under, as Giddey is a rising elite prospect in the 2021 draft class.

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