When you become the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double, people start paying attention.
Josh Giddey’s historic performance against the Dallas Mavericks was the talk of the NBA on Monday with pundits and beat writers lauding the “extraordinary” Australian rookie.
The 19-year-old surpassed LaMelo Ball’s record to notch a triple-double at 19 years of age and 84 days after tallying 17 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks.
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Giddey added four steals and committed just three turnovers in 36 minutes while finishing a +6 plus/minus in the OKC Thunder’s 95-86 loss to the Mavericks.
Locked On Thunder podcast’s Ryan Stiles described Giddey’s performance as “incredible” — particularly how he stood up in the absence of star teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (signed to a $172 million contract [$A238m]), who’s sidelined in Covid protocols.
“Giddey’s a playmaker, a leader, he’s confident. In this game with the Thunder missing so many pieces, including their best player ‘SGA’ (Gilgeous-Alexander), they were able to stay in there with Dallas and have Giddey step up in a huge way.
“We’ve seen that throughout the season even when he shares the floor with SGA. We’ve seen Giddey’s ability to lead a team while sharing the floor with an alpha male like SGA, because Giddey is an alpha male as well.
“This paring is going to be so great for the future of the Thunder. But tonight we really got to see what is was like for Giddey to be at the helm of a team by himself. It was an excellent performance, especially when you consider the rest of the team around him simply are not that good, at least not right now.
“So when this team does become that championship and playoff contender they want to be, you can expect another step forward in Giddey’s development. He’s 19 years old and already performing at this level.”
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Giddey’s 14 dimes were the highlight of his performance against the Mavs, setting up his teammates all over the floor with creative and flashy passes.
It marked both a career-high return for Giddey and Thunder franchise record, also tying the NBA assist record for teenagers alongside LeBron James and Zach LaVine.
But as Stiles highlighted, it’s not just the raw assist numbers that are impressive, but the way the young gun dictates the offence and sets up his teammates.
“These are not just standard assists. He is the offence and this is something that can translate beyond this year, beyond with this team and for his entire career.
“You think about the crosscourt whip pass to Aaron Wiggins on the corner for the three to start the day, the no-look pass in the corner for Ty Jerome…. he can drive and kick, he can find cutters with ease.
“This is a testament to how good he is as a playmaker because he’s not played all that long with these guys and this rotation has not been set and stone all season long, he’s not playing with the same players every single game.
“Yet he understands when and why each of them are going to cut and what to look for. That’s a big part of playmaking, for him to already have that grasp on guys, it shows his work ethic and natural instincts on the basketball court.”
Stiles also complimented Giddey for his ability to shift gears within a game and never try to do too much.
“He can be extraordinary and be simple,” he noted.
“So many times when a player is extraordinary, they just want to show you how elite they are and they want to show you that all the time — like a kid who’s got a new toy.
“But Giddey is not trying to show you anything, he’s just trying to play basketball and he can switch back and fourth between being that fancy passer and being a 1980 bounce and chess pass extraordinaire.”
The No Dunks podcast also discussed Giddey’s brilliant performance and where he now ranked among his rookie class.
Giddey was of course taken by the Thunder with the sixth overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft — which at the time was a surprise as a few spots earlier than expected.
But The Athletic’s Leigh Ellis believes if he can emulate such performances as against Dallas, it’ll put him right among the top rookies.
“He’s definitely All-NBA First Rookie Team,” Ellis told the No Dunks podcast. “Will he win Rookie of the Year? It’s open right now. (Evan) Mobley is probably still my leader, Scottie Barnes is there, Cade Cunningham, so there’s a lot of good candidates.
“If he keeps performing at this level, he’s definitely going to get some votes.
“I’m just really happy to see him out there having an impact because the big question about him coming in was whether or not he could shoot and score in the NBA…. he’s hitting that three with confidence, he’s got a nice little floater, he can get inside, he’s got really soft touch around the rim.
“I’m happy for the Oklahoma City because that was a risky pick from Sam Presti, everyone thought that was a bit high for him.”
The Athletic’s Tas Melas thinks Giddey has shown enough to suggest he should’ve been drafted higher.
“He looks like a steal at Pick 6. If we do a redraft, he’d be higher. I think Mobley is still No. 1, but Barnes, Cade, then I think it’s Giddey at Pick 4,” Melas told the No Dunks podcast.
“His three-point shot could improve (but) he’s got it all — the competitive juice, he can knock down jumpers, he gets after it and he can playmake.”
The Athletic’s J.E. Skeets added: “I said it when I got a chance to go down and watch the Thunder play the Hawks. Within 12 minutes of watching him play just in person, it was like holy crap, he does have an awesome, awesome feel for the game.
“He’s got to work on his shot for sure, but the control, LaMelo is like this too. He’s seeing angles that for most guys are not there and thinking 10 steps ahead. It’s pretty special to watch.”
It comes after Mavericks coach Jason Kidd, who racked up 107 triple-doubles during his playing career — the fourth most in NBA history, was impressed by Giddey‘s outing against his side.
“He‘s unselfish. As a 19-year old, he understands how to play the game,” Kidd said post-match
”He’s comfortable with the ball. His teammates all know that if he has it, they’re gonna cut, because there’s a chance that they can get it. He’s comfortable shooting the 3. He has the total package. At 19, it’s just a matter of time of understanding how teams are going to play him. He’s as good as advertised.”
Okcthunderwire.usatoday.com graded Giddey’s game an A+ — his best for the season.
“Making his return from health and safety protocol and without his running mate in Gilgeous-Alexander, Giddey was given free reign to run the offence this game and he turned in his first career triple-double in response to the new found freedom,” the column reads.
“Unlike last time where Giddey failed to score two points for the entire fourth quarter to make history, he was able to grab his 10th rebound with over four minutes left in the game.
“This is easily Giddey’s best game of the season and has shown a lot of growth as the season has progressed. Giddey being able to collect 14 assists with the teammates he had this game speaks great volumes as to how special his playmaking is and can be.
“The 13 rebounds also show that he is already one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA despite being a rookie and the 16 shot attempts show that Giddey is not afraid to let it fly if circumstances force him to. Overall, a great game for Giddey.”