While most prospects will take the college route before starting their professional career, there have been players in recents years that have taken their talents to Australia’s Next Stars Program. Terrance Ferguson (2017 No. 21 pick) LaMelo Ball (2020 No. 3 pick) and RJ Hampton (2020 No. 24 pick) competed in the NBL under the Next Stars Program, developed their game and became first round picks.
The next player to follow in that path is Josh Giddey. The Australian point guard started his career with the Adelaide 36ers. Giddey is projected to go in the first round, with mock drafts predicting he’ll go in the 10-22 range, possibly ending up with the Knicks.
In an interview with Mike Schmitz of ESPN, Giddey discussed what he can provide an NBA team: “With my size, being able to be versatile, playing 1 through 3, guarding 1 through 3,” he said. “I’m unselfish, and guys will like to play with me because I can get them the ball where they want it, when they want it. I love to pass the ball.”
6’8”, 215 lbs with a 6’7 1⁄2” wingspan, Giddey is one of the youngest prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft, not turning 19 until October. A great passer with great vision, Giddey gets his teammates involved with ease and can control the game. He was thrust at a young age into running his team’s offense and he did well, leading the NBL in assists (7.3). He also rebounds well for a guard (7.3 RPG).
Giddey has a great feel for the game and was a triple-double threat with Adelaide. His shooting isn’t great, but he has shown he can make an impact in other ways. He works well in the pick-and-roll, thanks to his passing and his height, as well as a solid dribble-drive game plus good handles and shiftiness to find his way into lane. He’s shown a nice touch around the rim, where he can finish at the rim with either hand.
Like most 18-year-olds, Giddey also showed there are parts of his game he needs to work on. He didn’t shoot well last season (42.7 FG%; 31.0 3PT%), something he’ll obviously need to work on as he enters the NBA. His shot looks slow and he needs to work on shooting mechanics and his form. He had turnover problems with Adelaide (3.1 turnovers per game) and will need to work on trimming that.
Giddey has active hands on the defensive end, which he uses to force steals and turn defense into offense. He doesn’t possess great lateral quickness. For the most part at this point, he is a limited defender and will need to work on his defense. He’s young, so he has time and space to develop.
Like many prospects in the draft, Josh Giddey will need to adjust to the NBA style of play and has aspects of his game he will need to develop. The Aussie guard had a solid season in his native country and could make a contribution in his rookie season next season in the NBA.