Josh Giddey nearly out dueling Luka Doncic injects confidence in OKC Thunder

Josh Giddey #3 of Australia (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
Josh Giddey #3 of Australia (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder have been well-represented at the 2023 FIBA World Cup this summer. From Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort playing for Team Canada, Josh Giddey and Jack White for Team Australia, and even Davis Bertans as a key cog in a shocking run by Team Latvia.

Throughout this Summer tournament, the Oklahoma City Thunder have seen a ton of checkpoints by their youngsters participating. At times, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has looked like the best in the tournament, Josh Giddey flashed significant growth, and even Jack White had some eyebrow-raising plays.

The OKC Thunder have to enjoy the development of Josh Giddey during the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have one of the best young cores in the NBA, and one of the critical pieces to that group is Josh Giddey. Many wonder how the 20-year-old will develop, especially on the offensive end. An already elite playmaker who struggles at times to score the ball and is steadily improving his shooting stroke, can he produce enough buckets to be a threat in the modern NBA with Mark Daigneault’s offense?

Despite having a good deal of NBA experience, fans often forget Giddey is still just 20 years old, younger than players selected in this past June’s draft; there is plenty of time for growth. That is exactly what has happened this summer.

A long-time goal of Josh Giddey’s has been to participate in international play with his home country, Australia. This summer, he got that chance. In his FIBA debut, he was plotted into arguably the most talented Boomer squad ever, with high hopes of a deep run in the tournament.

While Josh Giddey played well individually, Team Australia will not advance past the second round after losing a heartbreaker to Germany and being knocked off by Slovenia. However, that second tournament loss highlights why OKC Thunder fans should be excited about the young guard.

Luka Doncic praised Josh Giddey, saying the 6’8 guard is “a great player” before their matchup on Friday. In that game, Giddey turned in 25 points, eight rebounds, and four assists as he dominated around the rim to help lead the Boomer offense that only mustard 80 points.

On top of leading the team in scoring, Josh Giddey was one of just three Boomers to crack double-figures.

Josh Giddey averages a team-best 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists while shooting 50 percent from the floor, 18 percent from distance, and 66 percent at the charity stripe. Giddey dominated at the rim, shooting 75 percent at the cup during FIBA play.

The biggest piece of encouragement is the fact that he was able to match buckets at the end of the Germany game, and specifically against Slovenia. Despite the loss, he showed significant growth as a scorer, helped by his uptick at the free-throw line.

Josh Giddey averages 1.7 free throw attempts per game at the NBA level, but on this FIBA stage, that number leaped to six attempts per contest. Getting to the charity stripe is what transforms scoring outputs, elevating players to a new tier. If Giddey can translate that to the NBA scene, you will see a much different offensive weapon in Bricktown.

Despite the disappointing team result, individually, this was a successful summer for Josh Giddey. He has clearly grown as a player and spent a lot of time around NBA veterans to learn the game even more. The FIBA World Cup tournament only lets anticipation mount for the upcoming NBA season.

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