Josh Giddey: How has the Thunder rookie performed 20 games into his NBA career?

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Josh Giddey has established himself as a point guard of the future with an impressive 20-game start to his NBA career. 

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The Aussie is quickly becoming a nightly triple-double threat with his combination of size and playmaking, cementing himself as the Thunder’s starting point guard. 

He is currently averaging 10.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.0 steals in 29.4 minutes per game, shooting 39.1 percent from the field and 25.7 percent from the 3-point line.

After a 20-game sample size, let’s dive into Giddey’s season so far.

An elite playmaker

Josh Giddey: How has the Thunder rookie performed 20 games into his NBA career?
© Provided by Sporting News Thunder rookie Josh Giddey

Through the first 20 games of his NBA career, Josh Giddey has more than solidified himself as the best playmaker in the 2021 NBA Draft class, leading all rookies in assists at 5.8 per game.

The Aussie currently ranks 24th in assists in the entire league and one thing that stands out from his games is the ‘almost’ assists.

On a team that has struggled to knock down shots, Giddey has made a ton of impressive passes and plays that haven’t resulted in points, but his willingness to always look for the open man has his teammates coming to expect the ball at any time. If you run the lane, he will find you. 

“He sees everything and everything is on target,” Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said.

MORE: Running diary of Josh Giddey’s best moments, stats, highlights

Giddey’s decision-making and passing have papered over his offensive struggles shooting the ball, especially from the 3-point line, where he’s knocking down 25.7 percent of his triples on 3.5 attempts per game. 

HIs confidence attacking the basket has steadily grown as the season has unfolded, finding his spots in the paint with his herky-jerky movement, but one area which has emerged as his sweet spot is the floater. 

Giddey’s poise in the pick-and-roll allows him to snake into the key and with his 6-foot-8 frame, he can calmly get his shot off over the top of bigs at the rim. Through 20 games he’s knocking down 50 percent of his floaters.

🎯@joshgiddey floats it in #ThunderUp

📲💻 Watch LIVE on NBA League Pass: https://t.co/7kdyNBOB84 pic.twitter.com/tXfP2630EJ

— NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) November 21, 2021

A blossoming backcourt 

Josh Giddey: How has the Thunder rookie performed 20 games into his NBA career?
© Provided by Sporting News Josh Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder)

The brightest spot of the Thunder’s season has no doubt been the promising combination of Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the backcourt.

With SGA standing at 6-foot-6 and Giddey at 6-foot-8, the Thunder have two wing-sized players for guards, making them a matchup problem for a lot of teams as they use their size to see over defences and create scoring opportunities, while allowing the Thunder to be a flexible defensive team, seamlessly switching on the defensive end. 

The sheer size of the backcourt is a big reason why the Thunder are leading the league in rebounding. For a young team that isn’t winning a bunch of games, they’re crashing the glass and fighting for second-chance opportunities, with Giddey leading the team in rebounds and SGA fourth.

MORE: Giddey’s journey to the NBA chronicled in new documentary set for Australian cinemas

As a duo, SGA and Giddey are a unique combination of size and skill and as The Ringer broke down, the herky-jerky guard duo is unlike many we’ve seen before, giving the Thunder a nice building block for the future.

While they’ve impressed on the court together, Giddey took his game to another level when SGA was sidelined for two games with a right ankle sprain, enjoying two of his best games so far, with increased minutes and ball-handling duties. 

In two games against the Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz, Giddey put up 17 points, 8.0 assists and 7.0 rebounds on 44 percent from the field and 33 percent from beyond the arc.

“It didn’t really surprise me,” SGA said of Giddey stepping up in his absence.

Historic company

Josh Giddey: How has the Thunder rookie performed 20 games into his NBA career?
© Provided by Sporting News LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), Josh Giddey (OKC Thunder), LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets)

Last week, Giddey turned in one of his best performances of the season in the 110-104 loss to the Jazz, tying his season-high with 19 points, adding eight assists and seven rebounds on 8-of-15 shooting and 3-of-4 from the 3-point line.

MORE: Giddey joins LeBron and LaMelo in the record books

In the process, he put his name alongside some elite company, joining LeBron James and LaMelo Ball as the only teenagers to rack up 100 assists and 100 rebounds in their first 20 games, per StatHead.

PLAYER AGE PTS REB AST
LeBron James 18 years, 341 days 329 137 127
LaMelo Ball 19 years, 161 days 243 118 121
Josh Giddey 19 years, 51 days 207 143 116

Giddey is also the second-youngest player in NBA history to reach 100 assists, behind only LeBron James, who achieved the feat at 18 years, 333 days.

“He was a point guard growing up and obviously we drafted him knowing that we had the position filled in the lineup betting on those two guys character and their intelligence and their ability to kind of coexist and help each other thrive,” Daigneault said after the game against the Jazz. “And that’s been ongoing and we have to continue to grow in that way. But with Shai out, it allows him to kind of slip back into that role.

“… He did a good job against a really high quality defence.”

honoured https://t.co/MOxxC1JS5I

— josh giddey (@joshgiddey) November 25, 2021

Last week NBA.com had Giddey at fourth on our latest Rookie Ladder, behind Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes. Winning Rookie of the Year might be out of the Aussie’s reach, but so far he’s established himself as one of the best players in the 2021 NBA draft class, making Sam Presti’s decision to take him with the No. 6 pick look smarter by the day.

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