Australian rookie Josh Giddey has been described as a “basketball wizard” after excelling in his NBA preseason debut for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In his first home appearance for the Thunder after being drafted as a No.6 pick, Giddey got to work in an impressive performance that drew a standing ovation from the OKC loyalists.
The rising Boomers star finished with a high 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes on the floor despite a 113-97 loss to the Charlotte Hornets of LaMelo Ball.
Giddey may be the youngest player in the NBA at just 18, but he looked composed well beyond his years against the Hornets with his sleek passes and ability to attack the rim.
The Melbourne-born guard delighted local commentators with his silky skills.
“He looks like a wizard with basketball,” the Thunder commentary team said.
“He looks good. He just looks like a veteran player – he has sensational ball handling skills.
Giddey seems comfortable on the NBA scene in large part thanks to his professional season in the NBL with the Adelaide 36ers.
He played against seasoned men and activists in Australia with the goal of winning the NBL Rookie of the Year award, which helped him make the transition to the best league in the world.
Giddey looked particularly impressive as he headed for the basket before finding a teammate with a precise pass.
ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz was not surprised to see the Australian excel on the big stage, especially with his passing.
“Hand deliveries like this are nothing new for 6-8 Thunder playmaker Josh Giddey,” Schmitz said.
“He separated opposing NBL defenses with his ambidextrous passes all season.
“So comfortable to make dribbling easier, especially with the left. Incredibly precise.
Giddey also performed well against his fellow NBL Rookie of the Year at Ball, who finished with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.
It was a great night of preseason basketball for the Australian NBA contingent, with compatriot Boomer Jock Landale impressing on his San Antonio debut.
Landale finished with eight points, six rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes on the ground as Spurs beat Utah 111-85 in their first preseason game.
The former Melbourne United big man aggressively attacked the rim and garnered praise from Spurs fans with his precise pass despite dropping five turnovers.