Josh Giddey sees big things ahead for his partnership with emerging star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the pair look to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder back into NBA play-offs contention next season.
The duo struck up a promising partnership last season and Giddey believes they were finding their best form together just before
The 19-year-old Australian guard said he saw his 23-year-old Canadian colleague as an all-star calibre player. He evoked the names of some other NBA star duos when describing how he saw the pair’s partnership evolving next season.
It’s hard, especially with me and Shai coming in as two dominant ball-handlers, Giddey said when talking to The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.
I’m trying to make that work and you see a lot of duos like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown [with Boston] or Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum [formerly together in Portland] – guys like that who are both want the ball in their hands, it’s not a natural fit so it takes time to work out and me and Shai are the same in that we have to figure out how to play together and learn how to play off the ball.
I think we did a great job of that this year and got better each week – I think our best game together was against Phoenix right after the all-star break and then we didn’t play together again for the rest of the season. I love playing with him and I’m excited about where we are headed.
Giddey said the pair took pressure off each other by both being able to run the offence or draw defenders away from each other.
He’s an all-star calibre player and when I have the ball I want to get it back into his hands as he is so damaging. Growing with someone like him is going to be really good for both of us.
Giddey also praised the defensive leadership of defensive ace Luguentz Dort, another Canadian guard who has a big future with the Thunder who will also have a top-10 pick in June’s NBA Draft.
The guards are head of the snake offensively and Lu is the head of the snake defensively, Giddey said.
If us three can be on the same page moving forward, it is going to put us in good stead.
NBL to introduce ‘play-in’ match
NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger says his league will introduce a play-in game at the end of the next regular season.
The format is yet to be announced but it would likely see two or more teams play for fourth place before the semi-finals begin.
The NBA has had success with its play-in games as it has kept teams playing at their best for longer due to the potential to make the playoffs via play-in games.
We are assessing multiple models of how the play-in will be structured and how many teams will be included, and will make further announcements in the near future, Loeliger said in a statement on Thursday.
We have seen how successful the play-in concept has been in the NBA and the numerous benefits that it has delivered to fans.
Teams will stay in the hunt for the championship for that bit longer, finals spots will be decided in new and innovative ways, and an extra layer of excitement will be added for our fans.
The NBL semi-finals opened on Thursday night with all games live on ESPN and Kayo Freebies.
Super coach spotted at NBA game
Four-time AFL premiership coach Alastair Clarkson has been on a study tour in the US and he was captured in the background of an NBA video on Thursday.
The team had shown star Warriors guard Klay Thompson riding a bike into the stadium ahead of game five of their first-round playoff series with the Denver Nuggets as Clarkson was putting the belongings through the metal detector on the way into the stadium.
Eagle-eyed Australian observers quickly noticed the familiar figure of Clarkson who has long expressed his desire to seek out new coaching and business practices from other sports and from overseas.
Clarkson has had a long association with various leading basketball coaches in Australia including former Boomers and Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown with Clarkson spending time with the Boomers during their London Olympic campaign in 2012.
Jackson makes superb return
Australian basketball legend Lauren Jackson made a stunning return to the court on the weekend playing for her home club Albury-Wodonga Bandits in the second-tier NBL1 East competition.
The Bandits, who played in the NBL1 South, formerly SEABL, for many years, have moved which is the old New South Wales Waratah League.
The 40-year-old scored 21 points in 22 minutes against Central Coast on Saturday night and followed it with a stunning 36 points and 15 rebounds in 19 minutes against Hills Hornets on Sunday.
Speculation has continued about whether Jackson might be in contention for the Australian Opals team for the FIBA women’s World Cup in Sydney in September, that still seems a stretch but you can never rule out a champion like Jackson if her form and fitness continue to return.