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Buzzworthy Picks 2021: Josh Giddey

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Another NBL product that would take Charlotte’s offense to another level

NBL Rd 3 - Adelaide v New Zealand Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

First of all, I just wanted to thank everyone who left a comment about prospects they wanted to see written about. I made sure to read through them all and now have a list of players to cover. Admittedly, this next prospect flew under the radar for me, but a ton of comments mentioned his name. Today’s Buzzworthy Pick is Josh Giddey.

Most mock drafts project him to be picked anywhere from the 10-13th pick, right in the Hornets’ range. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor ranks him as the 14th best prospect in the 2021 NBA Draft. He compares him to Joe Ingles, Kyle Anderson, and Evan Turner.

Giddey is listed as a 6’8” guard and was born in Melbourne, Australia. He played one year professionally for the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL before declaring for the NBA Draft this year. He turns 19 on October 10 of this year. Giddey grew up in Australia and turned down offers from Division I schools such as Arizona, Rutgers, and Colorado in favor of playing professionally in Australia.

NBL

Giddey played 28 games with the 36ers this past season. He averaged 10.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 7.5 APG in over 32 minutes a night. He shot 42.7% from the field and 29.3% from deep. Giddey finished with the second-most MPG on the team and ranked fourth on the team in PPG. He also managed to lead the team in both APG and RPG. Giddey played with Brandon Paul and Isaac Humphries on the 36ers, who both spent time in the NBA.

He left the team on May 17 in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA Draft. Before that, the 36ers went 13-18 with Giddey. He ended the year with 13 double-doubles and three triple-doubles. His most impressive performance came in a 101-79 win over the Brisbane Bullets on May 1. He recorded 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists in the victory.

Giddey joined the NBL as a part of their “Next Stars” program, a “program which contracts NBA draft-eligible players and develops them in Australia with a view to fast-tracking their readiness for the NBA” (via the Adelaide 36ers website). He is the first Australian-born player to be a part of it. Former success stories from the program include Bruce Bowen, RJ Hampton, and Charlotte’s own LaMelo Ball.

Upside

Giddey could potentially be one of the best overall playmakers in the draft this season. His ability to find teammates in the right spots is uncanny and wildly similar to LaMelo Ball. He maintains the ability to make all the seemingly impossible passes, but also the basketball knowledge to make the simple ones. While Giddey can easily get the ball zipping anywhere on the court, his priority is clearly finding the easiest bucket for one of his teammates.

On that same wavelength, Giddey’s offensive game sense is already at an NBA level. His overall feel for the game when handling the ball is far beyond his years. He may not be the most efficient shooter, but he knows when to shoot vs when to pass up a shot for a better look.

Giddey can also drive to the rim really well for a guy of his stature. He may be 6’8”, but at only 205 lbs he’s at a constant disadvantage when fighting amongst the trees down low. Despite his stalky frame, Giddey’s uncanny ability to finish through contact enables him to drive on the biggest defenders. He also possesses a beautiful floater in his bag of tricks that gives him another option when attacking the basket.

Giddey mainly plays point guard, handling most of the 36ers’ ball-handling duties this past season. With Ball, Rozier, Graham, and Hayward on the team, Giddey would certainly see his amount of touches go down. However, having an extra playmaker on the floor would open up bundles of new opportunities for Charlotte. If Giddey learns how to effectively play off the ball, he could easily turn into a Joe Ingles type for the Hornets - making all the right reads and keeping the ball moving at all times. The offense could reach new heights.

Downside

Giddey’s offensive mind may be ahead of his years, but his jump shot could use some work. He can pull up from three when necessary but looks shaky at times when pulling up. While he pulled up from fairly deep in the NBL, his slow jumper could be susceptible to be blocked by the more athletic defenders in the NBA. Giddey only shot 29.3% from three in Australia, so a lot of work would have to be put in to get that number to league-average in the NBA.

His defense is also extremely questionable at times. While his offensive mind is already above league standards, he can sometimes be a liability on the defensive end. Both his on-ball and off-ball defense need work, as he often finds himself lost on that end of the floor. Giddey also tends to leave shooters open at the three-point line in favor of helping on the drive. He may be able to get away with this habit in the NBL, but with the level of shooting in the NBA, shooters will certainly make him pay.

His length provides some hope that he could turn into a solid defender, but his positioning must improve for that to be the case. Giddey gets lost in switches at times, which are crucial in most NBA defenses. When on smaller players, his lack of elite quickness puts him at risk to get blown by; however, when guarding larger players in the post, his slender build makes it difficult to bang down low.

Comparison

O’Connor compares Giddey to Joe Ingles, Evan Turner, and Kyle Anderson. Out of those, Anderson seems the closest to Giddey. Ingles’ defense and jump shot are better than Giddey’s, while Anderson’s slow jumper and average defense look more similar to his game. Anderson carved a nice role out for himself in Memphis this season, but Giddey’s court vision could allow him to take on a more ball-dominant role on whatever team he lands with.

Another solid comparison could be Tomas Satoransky. A tall point guard who, while not the quickest, knows how to get to his spots. Giddey has the potential to grow into a better player than Satoransky, but at this point in his career possesses the ability to produce at least as much as the Bulls point guard in his rookie season.

Some may point to LaMelo Ball as a potential comparison due to the similarities in playstyle and size, but there are still slight differences in their game. Ball is considerably quicker than Giddey and his jump shot is much more fluid. Giddey may have a slightly better basketball IQ at the moment, but Ball’s raw talent gives him superstar potential. Meanwhile, Giddey may level out at a solid starter in the league.

Summary

Giddey’s fit with the Hornets is intriguing. He may not be the exact same player as Ball, but their playstyles are similar enough to the point where having them both on the court could cause problems. Charlotte’s main issues were on the defensive end last season, so adding another player who’s not a strong defender is not ideal. However, with one more elite playmaker, the offense could be taken to new heights.

While Giddey stands at 6’8”, his primary position is listed as point guard. This would only add to the Hornets’ crowded backcourt, forcing the front office to make some tough decisions regarding Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham. If Giddey could improve defensively to the point where he could spend some time playing the three or four, then his fit would the team would improve dramatically.

Giddey would certainly help the team’s offense as soon as he steps on the floor, but the defense would not improve with this selection. It’s just a matter of where the team’s priorities lie.