Triple-doubles galore? Looking ahead at Josh Giddey's second year in Oklahoma City
Giddey looks to build on a standout rookie year.
After living up to the lofty rookie year expectations bestowed upon him, as the sixth NBA draft pick, Josh Giddey is a prime candidate for a sophomore leap. The 20 year old is already established as Oklahoma City’s franchise point guard, forming one half of a formidable back court alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Giddey averaged 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 31.5 minutes last season, and emerged as a regular triple double threat towards the All-Star break, before a hip injury curtailed his rookie year.
Giddey’s passing gift is no secret, and his playmaking versatility stands out on a nightly basis. The tall point guard’s repertoire of dimes includes kick out passes to shooters, one-handed sling passes, bounce passes and lob passes among many other moves. Some of the bounce passes in particular make for premium highlight reel viewing, as Giddey knows exactly how to thread the needle in between two defenders, to find a cutting teammate.
Giddey also has the confidence to pull off audacious bullet passes as an inbounder. These dimes routinely catch the defence napping, and make him a threat in some of the unlikeliest situations. Another point of interest in the preseason was Giddey’s chemistry with some of his big men, like Darius Bazley. The Aussie not only found his teammates using bounce passes, but also occasionally deployed a lob to evade taller defenders.
Giddey’s passing has always been the most celebrated aspect of his game, but at the other end of the spectrum, his jump shot is still developing. Oklahoma City made an interesting behind-the-scenes move in late July, hiring longtime Spurs shooting coach Chip Engelland. Engelland was credited with guiding NBA stars like Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, throughout a 17 year tenure in San Antonio. Leonard in particular is Engelland’s biggest success story, as the two-time NBA finals MVP went from making 25% of his threes in college, to shooting a touch under 40% in the NBA.
Giddey shot a paltry 26% from beyond the arc last season, on 3.9 attempts per game. While it’s reassuring that he’s not taking the Ben Simmons route, and at least willing to suffer some growing pains, Oklahoma City evidently wanted to accelerate his shot development. Prior to Engelland’s hiring in early July, Giddey made just one of fourteen three-point attempts at the 2022 NBA Summer League - a 7% clip. This might sound like a harsh criticism given the sample size of five games, but it’s a clue that Giddey’s three ball had room for improvement.
Fast forward three months later, Giddey’s jumper was on point in the 2022 NBA preseason.
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