The Next Star in the NBL to NBA Pipeline: Josh Giddey

At the age of three, Josh Giddey sat in the bleachers of John Cain Arena watching his father, Warrick, coach on the sidelines as an assistant for the Melbourne Tigers.

His father’s retired Tigers jersey hangs in the rafters, bearing witness to the journey Josh has taken, from a young fan of the game to a potential lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Named the Australian National Basketball League’s (NBL) Rookie of the Year last week, Giddey averaged 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and a league-high 7.6 assists in 32.1 minutes per game with the Adelaide 36ers.

His game on the court is naturally unselfish.

At 6’9″ and 205 pounds, Giddey easily fills up the stat sheet with jaw-dropping assists and a handful of boards (grabbing the sixth-most rebounds in the NBL this season). He finds joy in the little things, like the seams of the ball lining up perfectly in a shooter’s shot pocket or the gleam on his teammates face after receiving a clean pass to the bucket.

A pass-first point guard, Giddey’s stalky frame is enticing as taller ball handlers find more success in the league. He’s a gifted passer who thrives in transition with an advanced ability to find the descending big man in pick & roll scenarios.

Giddey has been turning heads since late April when he became the youngest player since LaMelo Ball to record a triple-double in NBL history, scoring 12 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing 10 assists against the New Zealand Breakers. 

However in his first few games as a professional, Giddey struggled with confidence.

As the season continued, his lingering jitters dissipated as he broke out in his sixth game with the team, posting a 13-point double-double, finishing the season with 13 total double-doubles and three triple-doubles. 

“I think my whole game kind of went to another level,” Giddey said. “Playing with that swagger and confidence is what I love doing, and when I’m doing that, I think that’s when I’m at my best.”

It’s the first day of the NBA Combine and Giddey is calling from Chicago where he and 69 other young hopefuls are itching for their name to be called on July 29th.

His morning starts with an early lift, then transitions to a skill development session with former Texas A&M and Melbourne United guard Darryl McDonald. After a short break, a rejuvenated Giddey heads back to the gym where he gets up hundreds of shots every night. 

The most visible flaw in Giddey’s game is his jump shooting. However, the Melbourne prospect has one person in his corner that most don’t in order to right his course in, arguably, the greatest player and shooter in the history of Australian basketball: seven-time league MVP and 14-time scoring champ, Andrew Gaze

Josh’s relationship with Gaze spawned before he was even born, when Warrick and Gaze were teammates on the 1993 and 1997 Melbourne Tigers championship teams.

Throughout his junior career in Australia, Drewey, to close friends, was an integral part of Giddey’s growth.

“There’s no one really better to learn from and kind of get advice from and be in the gym with this summer,” says of his sessions with Gaze this summer.

Now, armed with a bountiful amount of knowledge and experience from mentors, as well as a year of professional play and a playmaking bag rivaled only by the league’s top guards, Giddey is prepared for the process he’s waited his whole life for. 

“It’s exciting because this is the stuff I’ve wanted to do my whole life and for it to finally be here,” Giddey says. “And it’s all coming really quickly. I’m trying to take it day by day. It’s so cool. Being around the guys I am, talking with these teams and you can let it slip, and I’m trying to just enjoy the whole process.”

Giddey is currently ranked 11th in ESPN’s Top 100 Draft Prospects.

The post The Next Star in the NBL to NBA Pipeline: Josh Giddey appeared first on SLAM.

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