Sunday, November 28 2021

Josh Giddey was selected higher than consensus in the 2021 NBA draft, but in his first preseason game, the Oklahoma City Thunder looked smart for picking the Australian guard/wing with the No. 6 pick.

After a year of tanking, there is pressure on Giddey’s shoulders to make sure that the losing of the 2020-21 season was not a waste. He will be out to show that not only does he have potential to blossom, but that he is one of the best rookies in the NBA.

Here are three goals that Giddey can take into the 2021-22 season as the Thunder enter the next phase of their rebuild.

Get used to the NBA 3-point line

We’ve seen frequently that overseas players who enter the NBA struggle with the longer 3-point line. The NBL line is slightly 22.15 feet from the backset while the NBA line is 23.75 feet.

This problem may prove even trickier for Giddey, who is not a good 3-point shooter. He made 29.3% of his 3.5 attempts per game last season.

Granted, it’s possible he has already gotten used to it, as he made two of the four 3-pointers he attempted in the preseason opener. But it’s more likely that that’s simply a small sample size. He needs improvement, but saying “improve” is too vague for the work he’ll have to put in.

With so many passers on the team, OKC needs more shooters — especially because the ball needs to be in the hands of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Learn to play alongside Shai

Learning how to play next to Gilgeous-Alexander will be pivotal. SGA is the future of the Thunder; Giddey is a rookie who OKC likes a lot.

Whether this is pick-and-roll, off-ball movement, hitting Gilgeous-Alexander on cuts, creating space, or working to get more hockey assists, the way they function will be telling for the Thunder’s success this season.

Both are best on-ball. Both are best as creators. A good give-and-take while Giddey improves at areas to complement SGA is vital.

Win Rookie of the Year

Maybe make All-Rookie First Team is a more feasible goal, but if Giddey posts a competent 13 points/6 rebounds/6 assists line, he’ll at least be in the running, unless Cade Cunningham or Jalen Green are dominant immediately.

It’s not all about scoring, as LaMelo Ball showed last year when he won the award over Anthony Edwards. Edwards averaged 23.8 points per game over the second half of the season while Ball spent quite a bit of that time injured, but Ball was simply a more complete player.

For Giddey to win, he would need to show how complete of a player he is. It’s unlikely he’ll win, but it doesn’t look like an absurd goal at this point.

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Source: Yahoo Sports


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