Australian rookie Josh Giddey has been described as a “wizard with the basketball” after excelling in his NBA pre-season debut for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In his first home appearance for the Thunder after being drafted as the No.6 pick, Giddey went to work in an impressive performance that attracted a standing ovation from the OKC faithful.
The rising Boomers star finished with a team-high 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes on the floor despite Oklahoma suffering a 113-97 loss to LaMelo Ball’s Charlotte Hornets.
Giddey may be the NBA’s youngest player at just 18, but he looked composed well beyond his years against the Hornets with his classy passing and ability to attack the rim.
The Melbourne-born guard had the local commentators in raptures about his silky skills.
“He looks like a wizard with the basketball,” the Thunder commentary team declared.
“He looks good. He just looks like a veteran player – he has sensational ball-handling skills.”
Giddey looks comfortable on the NBA stage largely due to his professional season in the NBL with the Adelaide 36ers.
He played against men and seasoned campaigners in Australia on his way to winning the NBL rookie of the year, which has helped him make the transition to the world’s best league.
Giddey looked particularly impressive when he drove to the basket before finding a teammate with a pinpoint pass.
ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz wasn’t surprised to see the Aussie excel on the big stage, especially with his passing.
“Off-hand deliveries like this are nothing new for 6-8 Thunder playmaker Josh Giddey,” Schmitz said.
“He picked apart opposing NBL defences with his ambidextrous passing all season.
“So comfortable facilitating off the dribble, especially with the left. Incredibly accurate.”
Giddey also fared well against fellow NBL rookie of the year in Ball, who finished with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.
It was a strong night of pre-season basketball for Australia’s NBA contingent, with fellow Boomer Jock Landale impressing on debut for San Antonio.
Landale finished with eight points, six rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes on the floor as the Spurs defeated Utah 111-85 in their pre-season opener.
The former Melbourne United big man aggressively attacked the rim and attracted praise from the Spurs fans with his pinpoint passing despite giving up five turnovers.
STATS – 18 PTS | 8-12 FG | 7 REB | 3 AST