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January 6, 2022
While I was litigating the Sengun situation earlier this week, the rest of the NBA world was starting to feel sanguine about Josh Giddey. The rookie’s triple-double got more attention than I expected it would, and the plaudits have been piling up in the days since. In case anyone still hadn’t taken notice, Giddey filled it up again in the Thunder’s 98-90 loss to the Wolves last night (14 points, 6 assists, 15 rebounds).
Today’s bolts are light on Sengun shade and heavy on Giddey love, accordingly.
Two drafts ago, #PokuBall was my dream. I wanted LaMelo and Aleksej to join Shai and make Oklahoma City truly funky, via unlikely draft machinations that would get the Thunder to the top of the draft in 2020. That wasn’t so far fetched after all, as Giddey was the next NBL-er up a year later. He hasn’t shown the promise as a shooter that Ball has, but his combination of size, skill, and smarts is about as tantalizing. It’s fitting that it was Ball’s triple-double record that Giddey recently broke.
Let’s hope Giddey’s sophomore season encore will be as encouraging as Ball’s. If last night’s follow-up performance to the triple-double is any sign, it will be.
- In the last five minutes of his latest podcast, Bill Simmons praises Giddey, saying he envisions only Evan Mobley and the Thunder guard as potential All-NBA players from the rookie class.
- Sam Vecenie (Athletic) has Giddey (5), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (11), and Aaron Wiggins (15) all ranked higher than their draft slot in his latest rookie rankings. Alperen Sengun is ranked at 8, just five spots behind where Enes Freedom was drafted as a rookie. Destiny.
- Vecenie heaped more praise on Giddey on his podcast, saying the 19-year-old Australian is clearly one of the smartest players on the court at all times.
- The #FREEDECK movement has succeeded. The Thunder cut one of the most weirdly overpaid players in the league (Gabriel Deck) in order to complete a trade with the Jazz that will save Utah money, open a roster slot for Oklahoma City, and (kind of) net OKC a second round pick. Miye Oni was acquired just to be cut by the Thunder this week. There are a lot of moving parts for a deal that amounted to scraping value from the margins for both clubs.
- All of the Thunder’s players are now out of covid protocols. Mark Daigneault is still out from the protocols, as is Lu Dort with knee soreness.
- Kevin Durant credits the environment in OKC as a part of James Harden’s path to greatness. “I think he was groomed right in OKC,” Durant told The Athletic. “(It) taught him about the business of basketball, talking about what winning meant. We went to the Finals, and we were expected to win every game. So that is a blessing to have that coming into the league. A lot of high picks like him go to losing teams and build a losing mentality. So, he learned what it takes to win, and he used that to catapult him into being a superstar.”