At the same time that Ben Simmons, once Australia’s basketballing golden boy, seems to have put his NBA career in the toilet, young gun Josh Giddey is cementing his status as not only Australia’s top basketball talent but one of the best basketball players in the world.
Josh Giddey – who we might remind you is only 20 years old – just helped the Oklahoma City Thunder secure a hard-fought 123-118 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in the play-in tournament ahead of the 2023 NBA playoffs in what’s easily the biggest game of his career.
Giddey scored 31 points (25% of OKC’s total points for the game), 10 assists, 9 rebounds and recorded a 50% field goal percentage. Pretty impressive for the youngest player on the hardcourt that game in his first-ever postseason game.
It was a hard-fought and close one, too, with Giddey and fellow OKC backcourt phenom, Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, putting in serious work to triumph over the Pelicans. Gilgeous-Alexander had to hold back an angry Giddey at one point during the game after the Aussie was hit below the belt by Josh Richardson in a flagrant foul.
Josh Giddey has been cookin’ in this game as OKC contest a tight one with the Pelicans. pic.twitter.com/4cllyUm4pH— ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) April 13, 2023
Commentators and fans are already hailing Giddey’s performance and are even comparing him to the Greatest Of All Time, Mr LeBron James himself – that’s pretty high praise for the boy from Melbourne who’s still got plenty of growing to do and has untapped potential.
“OKC is going to be a serious, serious problem next year and beyond. This is some grown man shit from Josh Giddey in the biggest game of his life,” WWOS’ Chris De Silva opined.
Other praise heaped on Giddey includes plenty from News Corp’s Ronny Lerner, who says Giddey is “gonna make this country proud for a very long time.”
“Ridiculous. Words don’t do proper justice to just how big this is.”ESPN’s Steve Smith
JOSH GIDDEY IN A WIN OR GO HOME GAME AT 20 YEARS OLD— TF (@ThunderFocus) April 13, 2023
CLUTCH FREE THROWS pic.twitter.com/O4UMeLKQLI
Giddey’s talent and success – as well as his conscientious nature and intense work ethic – lie in stark contrast to the ailing fortunes of Australia’s former basketball golden child, Ben Simmons.
Earlier this year in March, it was confirmed that the 26-year-old’s 2022-23 season would come to a premature end with Simmons starting a rehab program to address his ongoing back issues.
That news came after arguably Simmons’ worst season yet, where he appeared in just 42 games for the Nets after his acrimonious trade from the 76ers and averaged only 6.9 points and 26.3 minutes per game – three career lows. It’s not clear what Simmons’ future looks like: in between his injuries and seemingly nonplussed attitude to training, Simmons might not be long for the NBA.
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In comparison, Giddey’s stgiddey ar continues to rise – and fingers crossed he’ll keep on delivering powerhouse performances like today’s win over the Pelicans.
The Thunder will now take on the Minnesota Timberwolves for a place in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs against the top-seeded Denver Nuggets. More Giddey goodness on the way, then?