The OKC Thunder have been well-represented at the FIBA World Cup tournament. In preparation for pool play to start, teams are taking part in exhibition contests, including Team Australia taking part in exhibition fixtures this week. Josh Giddey has discussed how important it is to be part of the Boomers, helping them prepare for international play during the 2021 Summer, which made his NBA Draft cycle a bit more hectic than usual; now he has not only made the squad but is one of the leaders.
In the Boomer’s first exhibition match-up, they dominated Venezuela on Monday morning (OKC time). Team Australia won 97-41, with Josh Giddey leading the way playing in 24 minutes, only behind Patty Mills, who logged 26 minutes of game time.
Josh Giddey impresses with Team Australia, OKC Thunder fans should be overjoyed with his progression.
While it was just one game, 24 minutes, and an exhibition tilt against a clearly overmatched squad, Josh Giddey’s progression should still excite OKC Thunder fans. Even with all the previously mentioned caveats, Giddey’s improvements are tangible and can translate to the NBA hardwood.
Josh Giddey finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists, nearly logging a triple-double. However, that is not even the eye-popping portion of his box score. Giddey shot an impressive 71 percent from the floor and 0-for-2 from three. However, the encouraging part for Thunder fans is that he attempted five free throws (canning four of them).
OKC Thunder bench boss Mark Daigneault has stressed the importance of Josh Giddey getting to the charity stripe and using his near 6’9 frame to accomplish that at the NBA level. Every year we see an NBA player take a leap in their points per game column by simply improving their Free Throw attempts and rate at the line.
Even looking at Giddey’s backcourt mate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. As the max contract point guard improved his Free Throw attempt from seven to 11 a game, his points per game climbed from 24 to 31.
Josh Giddey has struggled to find ways to get free throws at the NBA level, averaging just 1.7 attempts for his career, nearly cracking two per game this past season. Giddey has only logged nine games with more than four free throw attempts for his entire career.
The third-year guard drew these free throw attempts due to his incredible hard-line drives at the rack. At the end of this past season, Giddey improved at taking advantage of smaller matchups at the ring, which continued into FIBA.
He had an impressive spinning through-the-lane layup and finished through traffic for a tremendous and-one. He was able to beat offenses off the dribble with a top-of-the-key crossover move to get to the rim uncontested.
OKC Thunder fans should take note of these decisive drives because, as we saw in this matchup, defenders begin to rotate and anticipate a strong take at the rim, allowing Giddey to flex his playmaking muscles and generate great looks for the Boomers’ offense.
Josh Giddey played with spectacular pace, taking advantage of transition looks, which led to feeding open chances to his teammates, big man Duop Reath in particular. Fear not, Thunder fans, Giddey has not lost that fire-y edge either, nearly sparking a melee in the middle of this match.
Ultimately, OKC Thunder fans could not have asked for a better FIBA World Cup debut from their young guard than he displayed against Venezuela on Monday.