May I interest you in a 6’8″ gunslinging-playmaking savant that has the ability to walk into triple-doubles in his sleep? Then stick around, because you’re going to want to invest some stock into Australia’s own, Josh Giddey.
This is our 5th in-depth scouting report for the 2021 NBA Draft Class. So far, we’ve covered James Bouknight, Bones Hyland, Usman Garuba, and Dalano Banton. Now we shall dive into one of the most exciting playmakers in the class from down under: Josh Giddey of Australia.
Josh Giddey: PG, 6’8″, 6’8″ Wingspan, 215 lbs., Adelaide 36ers (NBL), (18 years old).
Josh Giddey is one of the least talked about prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft Class. That could be in large part due to him playing overseas with somewhat limited available film to scouts (relative to other prospects) making it more difficult to build that hype train. I believe a strong showcase of his skills in the NBL should serve his stock well in the coming months. Let’s take a closer look at his game before the start of the NBL season.
Offensive role: Point forward. Playmaker.
Defensive role: Long, disruptive team-defender.
NBA projected role: Rotation player, starter/core upside.
Swing factor: The off-the-dribble jumper + Filling out frame
ESPN 2021 Big Board: 48th
My Big Board: 15th
I asked ESPN Australia’s Olgun Uluc to describe Giddey as a prospect.
“When we look at Josh Giddey’s prospects going into the 2021 draft, the two things that stick out are his 6’8, 215 lbs frame, and his ability to pass the ball. At every level, Giddey has shown himself to be an elite pure point guard with vision beyond his years, and has developed the ability to play on the wing thanks to his improving jump-shot and athleticism. It’s not out of the question to say he has the highest IQ in the class; something he’s shown both in the half-court and in transition. At every level he’s played in, he’s been practically unstoppable on the break once he gets a head of steam, and has shown recently how comfortable he his working off high pick-and-rolls. He’s demonstrated the ability to hit pull-up jumpers from mid-range off those high ball screens, but doing that with more range and consistency would bode well for him going into his first pro season and beyond.”
Giddey stuffed the stat sheet in his NBL preseason debut last month tallying 13 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists with only one turnover. His next (and final) preseason before the regular season tips off set for Saturday, January 9th against Mojave King and Cairns Taipans. The first regular season game will take place on the 17th of January.
Adelaide 36ers coach Conner Henry on Giddey, “Clearly you could see there was something different about the kid. He has something that is not taught, you see it in a special type of person and a special type of player. I’ve been impressed with his size and his feel, his vision, the way he’s carried himself.”
Giddey’s main intrigue is his combination of positional size, elite vision and manipulation with the ball, especially in transition where he’s a nightmare for opponents. Standing at 6’8″ and moving the rock the way he does will cause plenty of mismatches for the defense. His jumper off-the-dribble needs some work but it’s very much not a lost cause, especially with solid mechanics and the catch and shoot numbers. Aesthetically the jumper looks like it has promise, but it will be something to keep a close eye on. He has displayed the ability to finish around the rim in impressive ways with his size, touch and craft, though he is still contact averse at times which limits his finishing upside at the moment.
Giddey is an excellent decision-maker that rarely gets flustered or turns the ball over, making reads in a split-second through his elite vision and processing speed. He almost plays the game in slow motion at times, going at his own pace and manipulating the defense with his eyes or change of pace– he keeps the defense on its’ toes at all times.
When asked what he thought the most underrated part of his game was, his response was, “I think my rebounding…as a guard. I’m a bigger guard, but there’s not a lot of guards that rebound a lot.” Check out the full interview here from Pro Insight.
The audacity this young man has on some of his passes are incredible whether it’s grabbing a defensive rebound and launching it the entire length of the court or delivering pinpoint behind-the-back dimes while on the move, his unique arsenal of passing is impressive. The size really helps him see the court well in the half-court as well, though he’s someone that enjoys and thrives when pushing the ball in transition. The most intriguing part of his passing would be his ability to make reads on plays before they happen with high quality anticipation and feel for the game.
Below is an example of a perfectly timed spin move using his body control and vision to set up this play before even making the move. His reads are simply next level good.
Josh Giddey quite frequently uses this spin move to his right at the exact moment his defender initiates contact. pic.twitter.com/9K58NHbmnc— 7 Foot Schnitzel (@7_Ft_Schnitzel) May 3, 2020
Here was a nice pass from his preseason debut, a simple yet advanced read through anticipation of the defender and his teammate by putting the pass right on the money off the backdoor cut. Like I’ve already mentioned, he sees the floor at a level beyond his years.
The most important thing for Giddey will be his off-the-dribble jumper to keep the defense honest, because at his size he should be able to get it off nearly whenever he wants. It’ll just come down to the results and how efficient he can be with it. He hit a nice jumper at the elbow off the dribble in their first preseason game, and attempted a couple more that while they missed, it’s exactly what you want to see him attempt and get more comfortable with especially in a preseason setting. The more willing he is to shoot, the better… even if the numbers don’t jump off the page, his mechanics are just fine. Reps are important.
Josh Giddey looks comfortable pulling up from mid range pic.twitter.com/vuU2kvaODn— Caine Purnell (@caine_purnell) November 15, 2020
His catch and shoot mechanics on his jumper are fairly sound and should be something he can reliably offer at the next level as long as he continues to put the work in on it. Here you’ll see he was ready for the ball, squared up and gets into his motion with a nice base and follow through. You would like to see a bit of a quicker release, but still promising nonetheless.
From what I’ve seen thus far, his team-defense had some positive flashes whether it’s digging on help-side rotations, deflecting entry passes or closing out on shooters. He seems to know where to be more often than not, though there are occasional lapses that any prospect his age will have on that end. The point of attack defense is probably his biggest weakness at the moment and that is connected to his frame/strength.
Giddey will likely be guarding 2’s, 3’s and smaller forwards in the NBA, but if he wants to be maxed out as a defender he’ll need to be able to guard up to 4’s with his height. I don’t think he’ll be someone you can put primarily on point guards defensively, and that’s fine for someone his size as there are plenty of ways teams can mask wing initiators from getting assigned to guard down.
Here’s a good look at both his offensive and defensive possessions from their preseason game against the Bullets. He does get overwhelmed a couple times defensively due to strength disadvantages or getting beat off the dribble, but overall I thought he made decent rotations and made the correct read more often than not.
I’m not as worried about his frame as some seem to be, though it’s vital for him to add strength so he’s able to “guard up” due to his size. It’s likely he will not be someone you rely on to guard opposing point guards, so finding a role that suits him on that side of the ball will be important, and ideally he’s someone you can stick on 2’s and 3’s with occasional 4’s once he beefs up a bit.
As far as his athleticism, he isn’t the most explosive nor does he have a quick first step, but he doesn’t need it due to excellent body control, change of pace and overall manipulation of the defense. He can create separation, though he must improve with his finishing around the rim through contact. My main takeaway is that he is not athletic, and it could be something to monitor, but he’s never relied on athleticism to be effective so it’s not a major red flag as some evaluators tend to think.
Scouting the NBL Games
The three key areas to watch for Giddey during his NBL tenure will be:
- Off-the-dribble shooting
- On-ball defense
- Ability to finish through contact
He may struggle in some of these areas, but if he can shows signs of improvement in at least one or two of these phases of the game then I believe there’s a legitimate chance he goes in the first round and maybe even as high as the lottery depending on how the rest of his game shakes out.
At the end of the day, finding a 6’8″ playmaker with his blend of vision and IQ is extremely rare. There will be plenty of NBA GMs and Scouts tuning into the NBL this season to see how he performs.
There is also now a recent substantial body of work to compare his performance to (along with Mojave King) from the games of LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton last season (and to a lesser extent Jae’Sean Tate). Another NBL name to watch is Justinian Jessup, who is being stashed by the Illawarra Hawks after being drafted by the Golden State Warriors.
Additional Notes and Resources
Here’s another insightful Scouting Report on Josh Giddey from ID Prospects, be sure to check it out for more on the 6’8″ point guard.
Attached below is another helpful prospect breakdown via Youtube from Michael Houben of The Pick And Roll AU.
Thanks for reading. Drop your comments below on what your expectations are for Giddey as a prospect moving forward.
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