2021 NBA Draft

Josh Giddey to be first NBA Academy graduate selected in NBA Draft

Australian playmaker is rapidly climbing to the top of NBA Draft boards

Maurice Brooks, for NBA.com

In gyms and parks around the world, fathers coaching youth sons in basketball set their kids up for instant success by making them the point guard. It’s almost a rite of passage whether they are good enough to handle the rigors of the position or not.

So, despite the fact that Josh Giddey has always been taller than most of his peers, his dad, Warrick, opted to turn his son into a perimeter playmaker instead of a post player.

And Warrick’s foresight will pay off at the NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday when Josh is expected to be one of the first players to have his name called.

Josh, who was born in Melbourne, Australia and is now 18 years old, is a 6-foot-8, 185-pound passing wizard. He is applauded for his basketball IQ and ability to make everyone around him better. He is quick to give credit for his pass-first mentality to Warrick, who had a long career with Australia’s Melbourne Tigers.

“My dad coached me and put the ball in my hands at an early age,” Josh said. “I was always the point guard. I was a normal height but even after I had a growth spurt, I stayed at the point.

“When my dad played, he was a team guy, a glue guy. He wasn’t a big points guy or highlight maker. He played with a bunch of superstars and was a really good passer. I think that’s where I get it from. He was really good at teaching the game, too, and he instilled team ball in me. He coached me my entire junior career. He allowed me to play and grow and learn and I give a lot of credit to him.”

Warrick scored 1,516 points, grabbed 1,912 rebounds and handed out 1,242 assists in 16 professional seasons.

What makes Josh such an intriguing prospect is that his game appears NBA ready. His size at the one makes him special. He will be able to see over smaller defenders and will be a matchup problem in pick-and-roll situations. Combine that with his ballhandling, court vision, rebounding and ability to guard multiple positions and you can see why he is a name climbing up draft boards.

Two years ago, Josh started having NBA dreams after spending 18 months at the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia. It was there where he learned what it takes to become a pro.

“When I first went there I definitely didn’t expect to be where I am now,” Josh said. “They developed me and worked with me every day. The good thing about the coaches there is they aren’t getting paid to win, they are getting paid to develop. They get nothing out of seeing guys failing and really want guys to get better. Another positive is you’re going against the best guys from across the country and then you’re getting guys from international countries coming in to train with and play against every day. Then there is the travel part, when you get to go overseas and play against people from all over the world. We were in Barcelona for a tournament. We were in America a bunch of times. There are so many good parts to the academy and I advice anyone who gets that opportunity to take it. If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I give a lot of credit to the academy.”

Josh earned his scholarship to the academy by performing well in different evaluation camps and Basketball Without Borders Asia.

“From his first day at NBA Global Academy, we all learned pretty quickly that Josh Giddey had a chance to be a special player, but his rapid ascension to a projected lottery pick has been inspiring to watch,” said Chris Ebersole, the NBA senior director who oversees the elite development of the NBA Global Academy. “It’s a testament to his work ethic, self belief and passion for the game, which was on display every day at NBA Global Academy.

 “As an NBA Academy staff, we are all excited as Josh takes this next step in his basketball career and fulfills his lifelong dream of hearing his name called at the NBA Draft. Becoming the first NBA Academy graduate to be drafted is a major milestone for the program and we couldn’t think of a better ambassador to represent the NBA Academy family in the NBA.”

On the court, Josh has been better than advertised. As the starting point guard for the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL as part of its Next Stars program, he averaged 10.9 points, 7.6 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 28 games. He was named the NBL Rookie of the Year and became the youngest player in league history to record a triple-double.

The one knock on his game is his shooting – he shot 29.3% from 3 and 69% from the free-throw line in the NBL. Josh noted that he didn’t shoot well early in the season but steadily improved as the year progressed.

On July 13, he led Australia to a win against Nigeria in an exhibition game in Las Vegas. Josh filled the box score with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists and although he didn’t make the Olympic roster, he had NBA teams buzzing about his potential.

Since they are bigger lead guards and both played in the NBL, Josh is often compared with reigning Kia Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball of the Hornets.

“I don’t like to be compared to people,” Josh said. “I think I’m a unique type of player, with my height and how I play the game is so different from a lot of people. Teams are going to get a pass-first guard who is unselfish and willing to give the ball up. I can rebound the ball, push it in transition and make plays for other people. My game is pretty self explanatory. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what I like to do and how I play. Teams are gonna get that from Day 1.”

When he isn’t hooping, Josh is like any other teenager. He is a sneaker head with a collection that includes an assortment of Nike Dunks and Jordans. He estimates he has over 100 pair of kicks. He also enjoys playing PS4 online, including NBA 2K.

“I also like to shop online, FaceTime friends back home and watch Netflix,” Josh said. “I’m watching Prison Break right now but I’ve run out of things to watch. I’ve done so much traveling in hotels and airports that I’ve literally watched everything. I’m just rewatching stuff now.”

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