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The question on Thunder fans’ minds the first two weeks immediately following the NBA Draft Lottery was, “Scottie Barnes or Jonathan Kuminga?”
The question on Thunder fans’ minds the final two weeks immediately before the NBA Draft was, “James Bouknight or Jonathan Kuminga?”
The question on Thunder fans’ minds the first two seconds immediately following Adam Silver’s announcement that Oklahoma City selected Josh Giddey with the #6 pick was, “WTF?”
No matter what sources say or what the rumor mill is churning, Sam Presti’s lips remain the NBA embodiment of the zipper mouth emoji. How did a player mocked around the #10 spot become the Thunder’s top pick in OKC’s most important draft in a decade? Wasn’t this the biggest draft curse word of them all, the thing fans most dread their GMs will do when their team is on the clock: reach?
According to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated, if Presti didn’t push in the punch card for the Australian prodigy, then the Golden State Warriors, known to be light years ahead, were going to get Giddey with the very next pick.
If Oklahoma City had passed, I’m told the Warriors were likely to select him at No. 7.
So that’s two respected front offices who had the 6’9” (he’s still growing) point guard as a top six priority. And they weren’t alone.
According to multiple reports, the reason the Memphis Grizzlies traded away Jonas Valančiūnas to the New Orleans Pelicans for the #10 spot in the draft was because they had their eyes on the player with the best court vision in the class. Fearing Giddey wouldn’t be available at 10, Memphis attempted to grit and grind their way up the draft, but ultimately failed to trade up farther and had to settle on Ziaire Williams. But a young playoff team that has been hitting on all their picks lately was willing to give up serious capital for the new Thunder From Down Under.
Make that teams at the 6, 7 and 10 spots who were jonesing for Josh.
While there are no reports confirming they had hopes of selecting him, the Sacramento Kings at #9 flew to Las Vegas to watch him work out with the Australian national team. Then again, a Kings interest may not be a ringing endorsement. Scratch this paragraph.
In all my Google searches, I couldn’t find any proof that the Orlando Magic were connected to Giddey at the #8 spot, which may be the greatest evidence possible that he was a slam dunk pick.
But not a single one of the celebrity draft experts from Chad Ford to Sam Vecenie to Kevin O’Connor had Giddey mocked as high as #6, so why did the Thunder, Warriors and Grizzlies all value the Aussie over the likes of the more hyped Kuminga, Bouknight and Moses Moody?
Giddey is one of the youngest players in the draft at only 18 years old. Yet, he is universally lauded as the rookie with the highest basketball IQ in his class. He’s also the best passer in the class. The best court vision. From all accounts, one of the hardest workers. Both his parents were professional basketball players so hoops are in his genes. Speaking of jeans, a point guard doesn’t usually wear nearly 7 foot sized ones. Add up his age, his size, his smarts, his skill, his intangibles and his family history and you get one of the highest upside ceilings in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Then again, I have another theory. Every General Manager in the league was blown away by the composure and quick critical thinking skills Giddey showed when asked the most embarrassing question in NBA media history in a Zoom call with a blockhead beat writer.