“Situational Analysis” is a series of articles that seeks to examine the circumstances that most often influence an NBA prospect’s success. Each player will be scored on a scale from 1-10 in four different categories: NBA-specific skill(s), fatal flaw(s), collegiate/overseas/pre-NBA environment, and ideal NBA ecosystem.
Josh Giddey is an 18-year-old point forward from Melbourne, Australia, who averaged 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game in his rookie season for the Adelaide 36ers. He is expected to be selected in the middle of the first round and as high as No. 10. NBADraft.net currently has him projected at No. 12.
At its core, basketball is a game of athleticism, intellect, and cooperation. It’s not a pie chart split into equal thirds for most players, but every player needs to be at least above average in all three areas to compete at the highest level.
Josh Giddey is as good as any prospect in this draft in the latter two categories.
First, let’s talk basketball IQ. Frankly, it’s a little frightening that Giddey doesn’t turn 19 until October, because he sees/feels/approaches the game like a seasoned 10-year veteran. He is the rare kind of player who can anticipate how plays unfold as they happen in real time. Giddey rarely seems to play out of control and he never gets ahead of his skis. He commands; he orchestrates.
Second, Giddey’s cooperative mindset is unparalleled. He would much rather make his teammates look good than hog all the glory for himself. He knows how to make every pass out of the pick-and-roll, including advanced second- or third-level reads that don’t come naturally to most players.
At nearly 6-8, Giddey can see over the top of many defenders and pass at angles unavailable to most point guards. He is ambidextrous, which allows him to pass and finish equally effectively going either direction.
His IQ carries over to the defensive end, as well, where he can jump passing lanes and anticipate plays.
On a scale from 1-10, Giddey’s passing ability at his size rates at a 9.
Back to the pie chart. His athleticism is lacking compared to many first-round prospects.
Giddey doesn’t have the quickness to blow by defenders off the dribble or the strength to push them around. He relies almost entirely on skills/savvy to get separation, but those windows will close considerably around NBA-level athletes.
His shooting stroke is a work in progress – only 30% from 3-point range and 70% from the line – and his release is a little slow. Every Giddey defender will play well under screens until he can get those numbers up.
His unselfishness is almost always a positive attribute, but Giddey can occasionally cross over into that rare zone where unselfishness devolves into passiveness. Giddey’s playmaking skills will only shine if/when defenses respect his scoring ability.
On a scale from 1 (not a concern) to 10 (serious hindrance), Giddey’s average athleticism and shooting numbers rate at a 9.
Giddey has been a walking triple-double since he started playing in Australian youth leagues.
He has been a fixture on the Australian hoops scene for years now, and elected to stay closer to home and sign with the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League instead of attending a few months of college in the U.S. Giddey was the first Australian to take part in the NBL’s “Next Stars Program,” designed specifically to develop professional skills.
Giddey wasn’t simply a development project for the 36ers. He was a key contributor. He led the NBL in assists (7.6 per game) and was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.
Giddey follows in the footsteps of fellow Aussies Ben Simmons and Joe Ingles – tall, versatile playmakers who see the game in unique ways.
On a scale from 1-10, Giddey’s pre-NBA career rates at an 8.5.
Ideal NBA Ecosystem
Giddey is an intriguing prospect who needs a creative, think-out-of-the-box coach who can maximize his playmaking abilities.
He will likely spend the first couple years of his professional career in spot duty, while his physical frame and shooting stroke mature. He will be a bit of a defensive liability early on, as well, so he will need a patient, forward-thinking front office supporting him through his development.
The Memphis Grizzlies at pick No. 17 have one of his NBA doppelgangers in Kyle “Slo-Mo” Anderson on the roster. Giddey projects nicely as a secondary playmaker alongside Ja Morant.
Oklahoma City could roll the dice with him with either of their mid-first-round picks, as his game would mesh well with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s.
Giddey also makes sense for Indiana Pacers at No. 13. I love the idea of him and Domantas Sabonis trading no-look passes.
What about the San Antonio Spurs? The squad has the Australian mentorship program set up with Patty Mills and Giddey’s approach to the game mirrors what Gregg Popovich prioritizes.
On a scale of 1-10, Giddey’s situational dependence is high – 9.5. The upside is there, and with playmaking is at a premium in today’s NBA, Giddey could reward the right team’s patience. However, the wrong fit could seriously damage his development.