The Australian Men’s National Team has its eyes set high at the FIBA World Cup this year. The final 12-man roster features nine players currently on NBA rosters, which is arguably the country’s most talented squad ever. It also features a pair of OKC Thunder members, Josh Giddey and Jack White.
To achieve their goals, the team must make adjustments. Recently it was learned that starting big man Jock Landale would miss the 2023 FIBA World Cup due to an ankle injury, forcing Australia to adapt and embrace playing small ball.
Team Australia playing small ball will unlock OKC Thunder duo Josh Giddey and Jack White.
OKC’s pair Josh Giddey and Jack White are the keys to this small ball style, with Josh Giddey as an oversized ball-handler and playmaker and White as an undersized big who plays with heart and hustle.
Josh Giddey’s role as the primary playmaker will have added responsibilities. He will be the ball carrier, but with him being one of the tallest players on the roster at 6’8, rebounding opportunities will become more prominent for Giddey.
Josh Giddey has been an excellent rebounder at the guard position throughout his professional career, and he has been a triple-double threat in the Boomers’ World Cup warm-up games.
His height will be crucial to Australia’s success, whether taking advantage of smaller defenders, helping crash the boards defensively, or exposing switches on pick and rolls. Giddey has done an excellent job of using his height and skill to get to the rim and drawing fouls, as he averaged six free throw attempts per game over a three-game stretch in Australia.
Getting to the free throw line is an area that Giddey has struggled with in his early NBA career, so the sign that he is getting there more comfortably and has no issue playing through contact is encouraging not only for Australia but the Thunder, too.
Jack White has proven throughout his career that he thrives in a small-ball style of play. Standing at 6’7, White came close to averaging a double-double in the G League last season playing as a forward.
His impressive rebounding ability for his height and constant relentless hustle have earned him praise from Australia’s head coach, Brian Goorjian.
“He is multipurpose, and if we are going to play that small ball, switch, then he is another important piece,” Goorjian said about White after a win against South Sudan.
White has had no issue sliding down and playing in a role guarding bigger players, setting screens, and boxing out. However, his offensive ability to stretch the floor or attack a close-out separates him from other forwards.
Jack White shot nearly 41 percent from beyond the arc on nearly five attempts per game in the G League regular season. This elite shooting demanded respect from defenders, which allowed him to score on other levels. White averaged 19 points per game throughout the regular season, earning himself a contract in the NBA.
Suppose Australia does decide to run small ball lineups at the upcoming World Cup. In that case, Josh Giddey and Jack White will be critical pieces in unlocking the full potential of the roster and potentially achieving success.