Josh Giddey Flaunts Touch Once More After Late-Game Benching

Josh Giddey #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)
Josh Giddey #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images) /

Riding the bench in the final 10 minutes of Oklahoma City Thunder’s Feb. 24 game against the Phoenix Suns, Josh Giddey regained his touch once again en route to one of his most efficient performances this season, albeit in another loss against the number-three seed Sacramento Kings, 115-124.

Giddey, who had taken the primary ball handler role in All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s absence, chipped in 18 points, seven rebounds, and five assists on 8-of-10 shooting from the field as he played a team-high 32 minutes. Against the Suns, he only had seven markers, on a lackluster 3-of-14 clip, in just 24 minutes of action.

Josh Giddey has shown improvement on the offensive end, especially in the game against the Kings.

The 20-year-old sophomore recorded a true shooting percentage — an advanced metric that measures shooting efficiency — of 82.7%, a blistering mark, in his efforts against the Kings. He also tallied an effective field goal rate of 85%. These metrics show not only Giddey’s touch in the game but also his improved shot selection.

Relying mainly on floaters when he fails to outmuscle defenders, Giddey had struggled against Suns’ lengthy wings, often forcing tough teardrops that barely glazed the net. Against the Kings, he opted to go to the rack more and finish with underhand layups that utilized the glass more than flick finesse from his floaters.

The result? An outing as good as he had.

Giddey’s two-point baskets came inside the painted area against the Kings. He made five shots utilizing the board, while only two went off floaters. He also hit his lone triple of the game in the fourth quarter — his first three-point make since the All-Star weekend.

Last January, Giddey said this about his mid-season adjustments: “Obviously, I struggled early in the season. Used to shoot a lot of floaters. I’m trying to get to the rim now. Taking the right shots. Trying to draw more fouls, that’s something I gotta get better at.” This statement from him remains relevant today.

Though he remained inconsistent with his shots, the efficient spurts he has shown are more than encouraging for his growth. Giddey is averaging 16 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists on a 48% field goal percentage, up from his rookie rate of just 41%. Giddey’s improvements should be more apparent with more games under his belt as he continues to grow into a defined role in the backcourt.

Josh Giddey will enjoy significant minutes as the primary ball handler and facilitator for the Thunder while SGA sits out with an injury. While he is far from perfect right now, the Aussie’s offensive strides should continue to grow further with the ball in his hands more often.

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