Josh Giddey could be the next face of Australian basketball
Giddey's promising rookie year and grounded, Aussie nature makes him the perfect candidate to represent Australian basketball in its strongest generation of talent yet.
It’s Josh Giddey’s first homecoming since entering the NBA. A who’s who of Australian basketball royalty are gathered at Sydney’s Waterfront, located in Bicentennial Park, eagerly awaiting the appearance of Australia’s latest golden basketball child, as their Melbourne counterparts did the day prior.
Tales of his rookie exploits, like copping a barrelling Giannis drive in the centre of his chest, to being stuck on an island defending Steph Curry, highlight the evening, but the stories often revert back to his humble beginnings - ranging from chasing up signatures from NBL players as a small child, to Andrew Gaze suggesting that if he picked him in his 18/1 VJBL team, that he’d probably spend most of his season riding the pine.
Whether it was being left off state representative teams, to predraft scouting reports that ostensibly suggested his weakness was the entire game of basketball, it’s clear that Giddey’s talent lies beyond the game’s surface, requiring time to absorb and appreciate. Even guest speaker Chris Anstey admitted his initial skepticism, before witnessing Giddey whip off-hand bullet passes to teammates at an Under 20 Vic Metro practice that would leave him aghast.
And yet, despite proving himself at every level so far, it appears NBA voters are still in the process of catching up.
Despite four seperate West Rookie of the Month awards, Giddey registered no votes in the league’s ultimate Rookie of the Year polling, leaving him with plenty more to prove as he approaches his second season in the NBA.
On Josh Giddey’s Twitter profile, there is a pinned tweet that reads: “The most valuable player is the player that makes the most players valuable”.
It’s a quote originally attributed to NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, though it applies in equal doses to Australia’s burgeoning young star who ranked first in assists per game across rookies and above such players as Steph Curry and LeBron James overall with 6.4 assists per game.
Much like those assessing him have taken time to appreciate the virtuosity of Giddey’s playmaking skillset, his teammates were able to slowly see the value the 6’9 guard brings to the floor and adjust accordingly to benefit their own games. If there’s one skill Giddey demonstrated over his rookie campaign, it was the ability to generate high quality shot attempts for teammates through his vision and understanding of the floor.
“It happens over time,” Giddey shared with The Pick and Roll recently.
“When I first walked in there, we weren’t making those cuts and those passes, but as the year goes on you start to understand how guys play. Me and Kenrich [Williams] especially, we figured out pretty quick there were easy buckets we could get off cuts, and especially off sideline out of bounds passes. He’s a really smart player, really high IQ guy that gets to the right spots, he’s got great hands and he finishes, so passing the ball to him is always fun. Same with Lu [Dort], these back cuts and other stuff, there’s easy ways to find cheap baskets and get them going, so those guys cut hard and I try to put the ball in the right spot for them to go get it and finish.”
For active cutters like Lu Dort and Kenrich Williams, Giddey’s vision created plenty of easy points, with Giddey assisting on 58 and 42 of the wings made field goals respectively, the former a team-high connection, per PBPStats.com.