Hungry Jack's NBL
Giddey Lauds NBL to NBA Pathway at Media Day
Oklahoma City Thunder draftee Josh Giddey has praised the NBL for helping him prepare for his debut NBA season.
Giddey was selected with the sixth pick in this year’s NBA Draft, becoming the highest Australian ever drafted directly from the NBL to the NBA, surpassing Chris Anstey, who was the 18th pick in the 1997 draft.
The 18-year-old had a sensational NBL21 season with the Adelaide 36ers, winning the Rookie of the Year award after averaging 10.9 points, 7.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game. He also became the first Australian in NBL history to record back-to-back triple doubles as his draft stock rose dramatically during the year.
Giddey became the third NBL Next Star to get drafted directly after his NBL season, joining LaMelo Ball (pick three) and RJ Hampton (pick 24) from last year’s draft.
Speaking to SEF-Oklahoma during the Thunder’s media day, Giddey explained how playing in the NBL provided the best pathway to the NBA.
“Over the years, Australian basketball has really blossomed,” Giddey said.
“There's more and more guys going to the NBA from the NBL and it's becoming a legitimate pathway for players to enter the NBA.
“We're seeing it, not just for me, but for guys like LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton, who spent a year in the NBL and then came to the NBA.
“So, it's not just for Australians, it's getting more attention on the global scale, and more international players are starting to grasp onto it and see it is a legit pathway through to the NBA.”
Giddey believes one of the main benefits of playing in the NBL was the opportunity he had to learn and play against grown, professional players who have NBA experience.
“That was one of the reasons I chose to go the NBL route opposed to college was to get that early taste of playing against big bodies, grown men and getting to learn from them in practice,” he said.
“There is NBA talent in the NBL and getting to go up against that at such a young age was such a beneficial thing for me. Coming to the NBA, it helps having that year under my belt.”
Another advantage Giddey has on most rookies entering the NBA this season is his involvement in the Australian Boomers program before the Tokyo Olympics.
Learning from the likes of Joe Ingles, Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova gave Giddey a window into the necessary habits to have a long and successful career.
“The off-court part is really beneficial because, especially with the national team, getting to see the habits those guys have, how they conduct themselves, how professional they are, and it goes to show…they've all had long careers in the NBA, long careers with the national team going to multiple Olympics and seeing how they operate, it’s something that’s really fun to be around,” he said.
“People talk about the Boomers culture a lot and it's really engraved by those core players in the team. To be around that at 17-18 years old was good for me to see how they act and hopefully in the coming years the younger core of that team can take the reins from those older guys who are going to be leaving the program.
“Australian basketball ever since those first crop of players came through, whether it was Bogut, Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, Dellavedova. They paved the way and ever since I was little, I looked up to them.
“I used to watch them in the Olympics, on the NBA stage, and they were kind of idols for me. I always wanted to follow in their footsteps.”
Giddey also singled out the special relationship he has with Ingles, who has served as a mentor for him during his career.
“I talk to Joe Ingles a lot. We spoke a lot during the NBL season, and he was one that really kind of helped me through the whole pre-draft process,” Giddey said.
“He was in that position as a young kid in the NBL as well, so he was good to relate to and talk to him and get help from throughout my pre-draft process.”