Peachtree Hoops continues its 2021 NBA Draft scouting report series with a look at the highly touted Australian prospect, guard Josh Giddey.
Josh Giddey is a 19-year-old 6’8 Australian lead guard prospect who played last season for the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL. While there’s still lots of areas for improvement in his offensive game, his ability to distribute and handle the ball at his size is extremely appealing and a lot of what makes him a projected Top-10 pick come Thursday evening.
After just one season in the NBL, Giddey is slated as one the youngest players in the class as he just turned 19 years old. He ranked 1st in the entire NBL with 7.5 assists per game, and top-5 in rebounds with 7.4 per. Much like LaMelo Ball last year, he was one of the better creators in the league in his lone season in the NBL.
Giddey is up there with Andrew Bogut and Ben Simmons as one of the highest rated Australian prospects to come into the NBA, though obviously Bogut (2005) and Simmons (2016) were both selected No. 1 overall in their respective drafts.
Giddey’s work as a lead initiator offensively is what carries is game. He’s a super heady passer, whipping the ball around the court for pocket and skip passes to set his teammates up for easy buckets. He’s a high IQ playmaker, but he’s still polishing his skills (understandable for someone who played their first pro season at 18 years old) in pick-and-roll and the halfcourt overall. He’s not enough of a threat to score to fully unlock his facilitation at this point. At the next level, teams should stay home on his drives and make him take his man 1-on-1 as a scorer when possible.
To paint the picture of how much of Giddey’s offensive output is dependent on creating for others, he ranked in the 90th percentile in the NBL per Synergy when including assists, generating 1.33 points per possession. When you factor only scoring areas, he ranks below the 50th percentile in most of them. He was 9th percentile in transition (scoring only for all these), 31st percentile in halfcourt, in the 40th on spot-ups, and 53rd as a P&R ball handler.
When in transition or when he has a four-on-three or three-on-two advantage in halfcourt, he’s a gifted passer who delivers the ball sharply and accurately for what are often easy assists. Giddey has extremely high upside as a playmaker, and if he’s able to round out his game he could be one of the better passers around in the league. The vision is there, but he has some clear scoring/shooting weaknesses that hinder his ability to be an offense’s entire engine.
Giddey is not a good shooter or scorer at this stage, to be frank, but there’s room for some optimism. Physically he’s still rather lean, as he puts on weight and strength he should get better at finishing near the basket. He has a nice touch inside, as he shot over 50% from 2 in the NBL, it was his 3PT shooting (29.3%) that dragged his overall FG% (42.7) down. He scores inside in a variety of ways, showing a decent bag of footwork and hesitations that help him get into advantageous situations in or near the paint. He’s far from refined as a finisher, but his combination of size and on-ball ability are rare and with time he could become a decent finisher. He is not timid, he will try to throw it down if he thinks he has room.
Giddey’s jumpshot is a part of his game that needs a ton of work . From a mechanics standpoint, he has a low release that is rather awkward and not particularly quick. He’s also inconsistent with his release, sometimes it appears to be lower than others, which maybe means he’s already working on improving his form.
The volume Giddey shoots from 3 is encouraging despite his low percentage. He’s not afraid to throw one up there, as he averaged four 3PT attempts per 36 minutes with the 36ers. If he can become even an average 3PT shooter, it would go a long ways towards fully unlocking his offensive game.
Giddey’s length and mobility should lead to him being a capable NBA defender, though there are still plenty of question marks. Given his role on offense, teams will likely want to leave him on a third or fourth option on the wing somewhere, but he has good hands in terms of coming away with deflections and steals.
He’s not someone you’d want to use at the point of attack, but given his size and again, offensive role, that’s really not something he needs to do anyways. Giddey’s energy is best served for grabbing a rebound and pushing the ball in transition, wearing him out guarding other teams’ best players likely isn’t the way to optimize him overall.
Rebounding is probably his best overall attribute as a defender, as again, he was top-5 in the NBL in rebounds as an 18-year-old, pulling down seven defensive rebounds per 36 minutes. Defensively, Giddey honestly does resemble Ball’s tape from the last draft cycle.
Like Ball, Giddey is better served off the ball, a great rebounder for a lead guard, and someone who loves to push the ball in transition with look ahead passes from the backcourt. He’s not quite as gifted as Ball in terms of ball placement and all of the angles Ball will use to hurl full court dimes, but he’s similar in the way he tries to attack.
Fit with Atlanta Hawks
Giddey isn’t going to be a Hawk unless GM Travis Schlenk executes some sort of trade up ahead of Thursday’s draft. He’s a projected top-10 pick in many circles, and it doesn’t season reasonable that he could slip all the way to No. 20.
Even if the Hawks were in the range to select Giddey, it’s unclear that he’d be a good fit. Obviously Atlanta already has a lead guard in Trae Young, and Giddey being a question mark as a shooter makes envisioning those two co-existing even more difficult. In most cases, Schlenk would just take the best player available, but obviously if Giddey were to be the best player when it were the Hawks turn to select, they have to factor his fit with the franchise player and whether or not they can co-exist.
While Giddey may not be an ideal fit in Atlanta, he’s a promising prospect that teams should be excited to try to acquire.