NBL books rookie history, Josh Giddey’s trip to All-Star weekend
As the attention of the NBA world turns to the All-Star weekend festivities, rising Oklahoma City Thunder star Josh Giddey once again carved his name into the record books in the final game before the pause.
Recording his third consecutive triple-double on Thursday, Giddey joined ‘Mr. Triple-Double’ Oscar Robertson as the only rookies in league history to achieve the feat.
Giddey breaks into the Rookie of the Year calculations and has become a League Pass darling in a meteoric rise that’s remarkable considering that just over twelve months ago he was preparing to off the bench for the Adelaide 36ers.
“I wasn’t on any fictional drafts, nobody knew who I was, so I was starting at the bottom trying to make a name for myself,” Giddey told ESPN.
“I landed in a very good situation, when (Adelaide GM) Jeff Van Gronigen signed me, he told me I would have the ball in my hands and a chance to play. I didn’t know if that meant ten minutes or thirty minutes, so I went there not knowing my role in the team.”
When veteran guard Donald Sloan agreed to a release with the team just weeks into the season, the door opened for Giddey to take on a major role immediately.
“It opened doors for me. I stepped into the starting role and since then I had the ball in my hands, and I was in a really lucky position.
“(Head coach) Connor Henry was brilliant for me, he let me play a lot of minutes. It could be difficult for him because he was training to win and if you don’t win you don’t have It was hard for him to balance playing at 18 and winning games. I think that team didn’t do it, I think we could have done a lot better that year. Connor was a coach great i loved him he gave me a chance and a lot of places where i am now i give credit to him and jeff for letting me have this platform to get to where I am.”
En route to being selected with the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft, Giddey hit a snag, missing out on the final cut for the Boomers Olympic team.
“Part of me is still mad at myself for not being on this team. I feel like I didn’t do enough to make it happen,” admits Giddey.
“The other part is to use it as fuel for the fire. I knew it would be a good scenario anyway. If I didn’t go to the Olympics, I had to go to the draft. At the end of the day , I wasn’t too sad when I thought about it, but obviously I wish I was there in Tokyo to help us win a medal, but I’m happy for the guys who got to go, and they won the very first medal for the country, so it was a great achievement.
“Hopefully at the next Olympics we can make it a gold medal. I’m excited to get back with these guys and compete for it.”
As is the case with so many rookies trying to land on their feet in the NBA, situation matters. For Giddey, Oklahoma City presented an opportunity to play right away, with a young rebuilding team not expected to contend for the playoffs in its first few seasons.
“It’s different for a lot of players, you see some guys are drafted at ten against a competitor while I’m at six for a rebuilding team. The situations are different for every player, and I was lucky to go to a team where I knew there would be an opportunity from the start.
“They’re a great group. I felt it as soon as I got here, I knew it would be a young team coming, but I think that’s the best thing. We’re all in similar stages of our NBA journey, we’re all at the start of our careers. Growing up with these guys together was awesome. There’s no ego on this team and it’s the best in all of that, we all want to succeed, and we all want to do our part to win.”
While wins may not be the ultimate measure of success in 2021-22, the Thunder are just one win away from FiveThirtyEight’s preseason projection of 19 wins with 24 games left in the game. the regular season schedule.
Individually, Giddey’s emergence continues with each passing month, seemingly putting blinders on the inevitable rookie wall. Giddey ranks second among rookies in points (16.4) and rebounds (8.7) per game in February, while leading the class in assists (7.9) per outing.
“It’s a long season, 82 games. The NBL, I’ve played 28, so obviously it’s a lot more here. The access we have to world-class treatment, recovery, physios, stuff like that, there’s really no excuse not to keep your body in check Injuries are going to happen, but the little things you can control are the important part of staying ready for the 82 games of the season I stayed on top of that, it helps well for the first 50 games or so I can’t complain too much.
Then, the Rising Stars game and the Skills Challenge which will take place on Saturday and Sunday morning (AEDT) on ESPN. Fellow Aussie and 2022 NBA Draft prospect Dyson Daniels will also take part in the Rising Stars game, giving hoops fans a glimpse into the future of the Boomers.
“I’m very excited. Dyson being there is pretty cool, it would have been cooler if we were on the same team. Hopefully we’ll play against each other, we’ll catch up, but I’m excited for that.
“First All-Star weekend, going to it is an opportunity in life. Kids dream about it, so I won’t take it for granted and I’ll definitely enjoy the weekend.”
From NBL reserve to All-Star weekend in the span of twelve months. Not bad for an athlete still more than 200 days away from his twentieth birthday.