Australian star Josh Giddey has been named at No.53 on ESPN’s annual top-100 list, ahead of former NBA All-Stars Zion Williamson and Draymond Green.
Giddey enjoyed an excellent season in 2022-23, averaging career-highs in both points and rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder, tipped by many to finish near the bottom of the Western Conference, finished with 40 wins.
The 21-year-old is expected to be at the forefront of a Thunder team that will challenge for a playoff spot this season, particularly with the addition of a healthy former No.2 pick Chet Holmgren, who missed his entire rookie year due to a foot injury.
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“The Thunder are expected to leap forward this season. If so, Giddey will have to take another one himself,” ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk wrote.
“The point guard is entering his third season after finishing 2022-23 strong, averaging 20.2 points, 6.7 assists, and 9.1 rebounds in his final eight games.
“But can Giddey show [a] big improvement in his shooting after averaging 48.2 per cent from the field and 32.5 per cent from three?”
The Melbourne native also ranked ahead of the likes of star Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane, who signed a monster five-year, $307 million extension on his rookie deal in July.
Giddey will be eligible for a contract extension on his rookie deal and is likely to command a similar amount from the Thunder next summer if he continues on his upward trajectory.
If the Aussie enjoys a particularly strong 2023-24 season, he could command a max rookie extension of five years, $336 million, mirroring the deals signed by former NBL star LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton following All-Star campaigns.
Giddey was one of just five players in the NBA to average at least 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists last year, joining LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic and Domantas Sabonis.
The Aussie guard finished with 10 points and five assists in the Thunder’s opening pre-season hitout against the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week, with Holmgren top scoring with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
The Thunder will play four more pre-season clashes against the Pistons (twice), Hornets, and Bucks, before opening their regular season against the Chicago Bulls on October 26 AEDT.