NBA Draft

OKC Thunder: How does first-round pick Josh Giddey fit OKC?

With the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the OKC Thunder select the 6’9” Australian point guard Josh Giddey.

This was unexpected. Giddey was projected between 7-10 in the more recent mock drafts and as someone who has been tracking his progress, six is unexpected. The Thunder showed no indication that Giddey was their target, Sam Presti moves in silence.

Josh Giddey played in the NBL last season with the Adelaide 36ers; where he averaged 10.9 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game and 7.5 assists per game.

With the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft, the OKC Thunder select Josh Giddey from Australia. How does the 6’9″ point guard fit with OKC?

If you don’t know who Giddey is, I wrote a full draft profile telling you everything you need to know about him. If you just want the cheat sheet: he’s arguably the best playmaker in this draft, he won the NBL’s Rookie of the Year award, he’s 6’9”, led the NBL in assists per game, had three triple-doubles in four games and he’s not even 19-years-old.

The defense and the shooting are the two major issues he has as a prospect right now, but he has shot up draft boards recently due to his play in the Las Vegas national team(s) scrimmages. Prior to the scrimmages, Giddey had been mostly unreachable during his NBL season due to Australia’s COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Now that he has been in the states, and NBA decision-makers have been able to watch him in-person (where he dropped 14 points, four rebounds and three assists against Nigeria), Giddey has become a consensus lottery pick.

How does Josh Giddey fit with the OKC Thunder?

OKC is a really good fit for Giddey, I was just absolutely not expecting this.

After being drafted Giddey said:

“It’s a dream come true so to be taken by the Thunder and to have them want me on their team it makes me feel really special and I couldn’t be happier.

Assuming the Thunder keep Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SGA), the core pairing of these two players is exciting. It gives SGA another ball-handler who can create for him and it allows SGA to be more of an off-ball threat at times like he was with Chris Paul in the 2019-2020 season.

I have no idea how the Aleksej Pokusevski cross Josh Giddey partnership works because I still have no idea what Pokusevski is.

The big takeaway from this pick is that Josh Giddey is a long-term prospect. And that is what the Thunder are, a long-term project. They have approximately 10,000 draft picks and have shown to be willing to take a gamble and develop players – Westbrook was a reach at No. 4 and well Pokusevski in general.

The Thunder have a strong G-League development program with the OKC Blue. Sources have told Hoopshabit that Giddey would be more than willing to develop in the G-League, so expect to see him wearing a different kind of blue this coming season.

This draft pick is good for two main reasons; the Thunder know that Giddey can be productive as a winning player immediately by being the secondary ball-handler. However, if they wanted to accelerate his timeline, they can give him the keys to the offense and let him run loose as well – Giddey averaged a league-high 7.5 assists per game with the 36ers’ fourth-highest usage, he can either be the lead guard, or the second and still be productive.

Giddey’s flaw as a prospect is switchable playmaking forward, Giddey’s ceiling is a 6’9” passing savant who can rebound the ball and control the tempo of any game with his feel, size and touch.

The Thunder have shown to know what they are doing as a front office, so let’s see how Josh Giddey develops with the OKC Thunder.

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