Scouting Report & Film Review: Josh Giddey

Josh Giddey may be the most impressive passer in this class. If he can improve in other areas, he could be one of the best players in this draft.

Strengths: Ambidextrous passer, size, playmaking, feel for the game, straight-line driver, rebounding

Weaknesses: Consistent shooting mechanics, off-ball defense, space creation

Consensus Expected Draft Range: Mid lottery

Where I'd Draft Him: Mid lottery

Shades Of: Bigger Ricky Rubio, LaMelo Ball-lite

Best Team Fits: Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs

Josh Giddey took the draft community by storm this season with his dynamic, highlight-prone playmaking. The 6'8 Australian point guard quickly proved to be one of the best playmakers in this draft and the most promising international prospect. Giddey's combination of size, passing accuracy, and ambidextrous passing makes it easy to imagine him contributing to an NBA rotation. 

While Giddey is an elite playmaker, he underwhelms in many other categories. Most notably, Giddey's shooting is well below the standard of a primary initiator. Giddey saw some improvement in his shooting as the season progressed, which he attributes to increased confidence, but his mechanics are suspect. Defensively, Giddey is highly erratic. He has stretches of promising on-ball defense, but his off-ball awareness and effort must improve.

In the 2021 NBA Draft, there may not be a better playmaker than Josh Giddey. This elite skill should translate to the NBA on day one. He will improve a rotation's offense purely through his playmaking. However, if he can't improve his shooting, he may not get the chance to dissect defenses fully. Giddey's combination of size and playmaking doesn't come around too often, which makes him a lock as a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Passing

Giddey's extraordinary passing is the first thing you notice about his game and will be his most immediately translatable skill. Every pass that Giddey makes is delivered on a rope. His accuracy is supreme, and he can pass out of any angle. Giddey is a fan of the two-handed over-the-head pass but is also a highly skilled live-dribble passer with either hand. There are few NBA players, let alone prospects, who can deliver a live-dribble skip pass with their weak hand like the one we see below.

That pass being made with his strong hand would be impressive. It being made with his weak hand is jaw-dropping. As we can see below, there isn't much difference in the level of passing accuracy between Giddey's strong and weak hand live-dribble passes. As Giddey attacks the rim, he knows his teammate is wide-open in the corner based on the weak side rotation. Instead of taking a lousy layup, Giddey makes the skip pass that smaller players may not be able to make right into his teammate's shooting pocket.

Most of Giddey's playmaking opportunities will likely come out of the pick-and-roll, an area he is exceptionally comfortable in. Here, Giddey quickly gets into a pick-and-roll, and the screener slips the screen. Initially, there is a defender in the post who is guarding Giddey's teammate on the block. Giddey pauses for a moment to allow his teammate to clear out from the block, which also drags his defender with him just enough to create a passing lane. Giddey threads the needle with an over-the-head pass for the easy layup.

A little later in the same game, Giddey shows his expertise at creating passing angles. Earlier, we saw him go over the defense. Here, Giddey goes around them. The screener is more adamant about creating contact this time, enticing his defender to hedge the screen. Once the defender does so, the screener slips to the rim. This time, the paint is more congested, so the over-the-head pass would lead the roller into the help defender. Giddey compensates by extending to his right to deliver a bounce pass that leads the roller to the right side of the rim, away from the help defender.

Giddey's pick-and-roll creation isn't limited to the roller. Giddey sees every inch of the floor on every possession and is constantly reading the weak side defender. If they don't help over, Giddey feeds the roller as we saw above. However, if they help too far, Giddey has no issues skipping it to the corner shooter.

Here, after Giddey uses the rescreen, he picks up his dribble and reads the help defense. He sees the weak-side defender is under the rim, so a pass to the roller is likely off the table. Instead, Giddey makes his patented over-the-head pass to the corner shooter on the off-balanced side of the floor. Giddey's teammates don't get a shot up, but with NBA-level shooters, one of those players is getting an open three.

This time, Giddey gets doubled much farther from the rim. A smaller ball-handlers would need significant help to get out of this double team, but Giddey makes it look easy because his size allows him to see over the defense. Once Giddey picks up his dribble (not ideal), he looks to pass out to his screener. Giddey quickly reads the defensive rotation and, like a quarterback, quickly progresses to his next read. Giddey delivers the skip pass to the corner shooter on a frozen rope for the open three.

If Giddey were a few inches shorter, this pass would be impossible. Fortunately, Giddey has the size to see the entire floor. Even more impressive is the pace at which Giddey delivers the pass. Typically, an off-balance skip pass out of a double team like this would have an arc, allowing the defense to scramble and recover. Giddey's pass being delivered with such high velocity prohibits the defense from recovering.

Giddey is also an adept creator when he puts pressure on the rim. Giddey isn't a dynamic ball-handler (we'll expand on this later), but his size makes him dangerous around the rim. Defenses must rotate to him in the paint, and when they do, Giddey is excellent at finding his teammates.

The final area where Giddey can be an impactful playmaker is as a secondary creator. Giddey will likely play in rotations with other primary initiators who are more adept at scoring. This reality will force Giddey to make an impact away from the ball. Thankfully, Giddey has proven to be a good cutter and rebounder.

Here, Giddey catches the defense with their backs turned and bolts to the open pocket in the lane. This movement forces the defense to collapse on him. Instead of forcing a tough shot, Giddey pivots and kicks to the open shooter.

Giddey is also an impactful rebounder because of his size and instincts. This skill helps him end possessions on defense, but it also creates extra possessions on offense. Here, Giddey secures the long rebound over the smaller defender. While he is still in mid-air, Giddey is already scanning the floor for open teammates. The second that Giddey lands, he immediately kicks it to the open shooter.

Shooting

Like so many prospects, Giddey's swing skill is his shooting. If he can prove to be league average, defenses will have to respect his shot which will, in turn, create more playmaking opportunities for him. If his shot continues to flounder, though, Giddey's overall impact will be diluted as defenders won't have to close out hard, can go under screens, and sag off him in general.

This season, Giddey shot 29.3 percent from three on 3.5 attempts per game, along with a free throw percentage of 69.1. Uninspiring numbers that are backed up by concerning mechanics.

When Giddey shoots, he looks like he is trying to place the ball in the hoop. He frequently leans forward in his shot and has an aggressive right leg kick out that slightly turns his hips as he elevates. All of these inconsistencies result in erratic shot results.

Giddey's pull-up mechanics also have significant inconsistencies. Here, there is essentially nothing positive in Giddey's shooting form. Giddey's lower body mechanics here are a mess. He has a narrow base, his feet are pointing to the referee on the opposite side of the court, and he has an aggressive right knee cave in. These issues prohibit Giddey from elevating at all, resulting in all his shot power coming from his upper body. An upper body that also has significant problems. Giddey looks to be more balanced in his upper body (not leaning forward), which is encouraging, but his thumb on his guide hand gets involved in the release of the shot, affecting its trajectory. Giddey also has a significant elbow flare and brings the ball directly through his sightline, restricting his view of the rim. 

To make matters worse, Giddey has very little space creation in his game. During pick-and-rolls, defenders can routinely go under screens without being punished. Giddey isn't a threat to knock down these jumpers, and he doesn't typically have the confidence even to attempt them. This intersection of foibles makes life much too easy for the defender.

Here, Giddey gets the switch and creates space with a jab step. As he gets into his shot, though, his mechanics are putrid. Giddey's feet are yet again pointing at a 45-degree angle away from the rim, his right elbow flares out, and his right knee caves in. These issues limit Giddey's ability to elevate, hence why the shot is well short of the rim. 

Giddey also struggles to create space off the dribble. He has a solid initial burst and dribble move, which we'll expand on later, but he lacks the footwork, counter moves, and shooting mechanics to create meaningful pull-up opportunities. Here, Giddey throws up an errant push shot after a sloppy spin move. Giddey's instincts to spin against his defender's momentum are correct. However, he looks as if he's never executed a spin move before. Giddey is slow with his initial turn, and his second step with his left leg lunges well outside the frame of his body, throwing off his balance. Giddey also fails to spin because of his poor hip fluidity fully. Giddey's second step (the lunging left leg) has his foot pointed toward the sideline instead of at the rim. This lack of flexibility hinders Giddey's ability to square his shoulders to the rim before tossing up an unlikely push shot.

As the season progressed, Giddey showed some improvements in his outside shooting. These improvements were primarily due to a change in confidence. He did slightly improve his right elbow flare, but there were no overarching changes to his mechanics. Giddey doesn't need to turn into Steph Curry, but if he can't force defenders to fight over screens, his offensive impact will be minimalized.

At-Rim Scoring

Given Giddey's struggles and unreliability as a shooter, he must be able to put pressure on the rim. Giddey is far from an elite rim finisher, but there are signs of promise. Much of Giddey's at-rim success stems from his size. Like his shot creation, Giddey struggles to create space when attacking the rim. Fortunately, his combination of touch and size makes him a decent at-rim finisher.

As a ball-handler, Giddey is limited. He doesn't have much wiggle or counter moves. Where he excels, though, is with quick, initial dribble moves and straight-line drives. Giddey most frequently used a crisp left to right crossover to get into his straight-line drive. This move was adequate for him, but it isn't reliable long-term. As we can see below, Giddey doesn't create much space with his first step or crossover, but he has the size to finish over his defender.

Again, Giddey uses the same move but is aided by the distraction of a screen. Based on how much the screen affects his defender, Giddey should easily blow past him. Giddey can't do so, but given his size, the defender can never truly recover. Giddey holds off his defender while avoiding the weak side rotation to finish at the rim.

When put in isolation, Giddey massively struggles to beat his man. He relies purely on his size, a mediocre first step, and an easily scouted first dribble move. Instead of countering defenders when they cut him off, Giddey tries to barrel through them, frequently resulting in a lousy turnover or shot.

While Giddey has a lot of work to do with his ball-handling, there are encouraging signs of a fluid, dynamic ball-handler. Here, Giddey executes a lovely give-and-go. Giddey steps through the double team and shovels it to his teammate. Giddey immediately receives the ball back and executes a perfect spin move to beat the defender. Unlike his earlier attempted spin move, Giddey keeps his second step tighter to his body to stay on balance while also pointing his left foot to the rim on his step through.

Even though Giddey can struggle to attack in isolation, he is significantly more effective after receiving a screen. Here, we see Giddey decisively attack after his teammate flips the screen. Giddey dribbles tightly off the screen, which doesn't allow his defender any chance of getting through. Giddey then does an excellent job of securing the ball to avoid the help defender and using the rim to shield the ball from the recovering big man.

As I noted earlier, Giddey will likely spend a decent amount of time off-ball given his size. While his off-ball shooting is a work in progress, he has proven to be an intelligent cutter. Earlier, we saw him create for others by cutting, but he is also a scoring threat when he does so. Giddey could easily stay on the wing, but he sees the defense frantically rotating to recover. Giddey capitalizes by cutting to the open lane and knocking down the short turnaround jumper.

Giddey's individual shot creation leaves a lot to be desired, but there are signs of improvement. Giddey's size makes things easier for him as an interior finisher. Still, if he can add another reliable dribble move or a consistent spin move, his scoring game will improve significantly.

Defense

Giddey's defensive impact varies drastically based on where he is positioned. He shows a lot of promise as an on-ball defender, but his off-ball defense is more troublesome. This problem isn't uncommon for young players, but it is something he must improve.

When defending the ball, Giddey has quality footwork and competes at a high level. He has occasional blunders where he fails to get in a defensive stance and is slow to flip his hips.

Generally, though, Giddey is an encouraging on-ball defender. Here, Giddey does a decent job of moving his feet (only crosses once) to cut off the drive. He beats the ball-handler to the lane and absorbs the bump. Due to Giddey's size, the ball-handler is deterred from shooting and passes out of the drive.

Again, Giddey does an excellent job of disrupting the ball-handler. Giddey contains the ball-handler in the post and quickly reacts to a swift crossover. Instead of panicking to the move, Giddey moves his feet and uses the baseline as a second defender. Giddey shepherds the ball-handler to the opposite side of the rim, uses his length to disrupt the view of the rim, and forces the tough shot.

Even when Giddey is put in the pick-and-roll, he has proven to be competent. Giddey anticipates the screen coming, but he waits to make his move until the ball-handler does. By timing getting his timing correct, Giddey gets over the screen without allowing the ball-handler to deny the screen. Giddey continues to stay with the ball-handler with good footwork and by quickly flipping his hips.

Unfortunately, Giddey's defense falls apart when he is away from the ball. He has poor awareness, awful screen navigation, and frequently helps off the strong side corner. Giddey is also inconsistent with his switches and fails to make the proper tags. Some of this can be improved through coaching and experience, but Giddey has many bad habits that need fixing.

Outlook

Josh Giddey is far from a perfect prospect, but he is a lock to be a lottery pick and has top-five potential in this class. The main selling point on Giddey is his playmaking. He can find any teammate at any time. Not only does Giddey have excellent floor vision, but he also is one of the most dynamic passers in this class. Giddey delivers every pass on a frozen rope regardless of if it is a two-handed over the head pass or a live dribble pass with either hand.

While Giddey's playmaking will translate immediately, he has a lot of work to do in nearly every other area of his game. Giddey must significantly improve his shooting mechanics and his ball-handling, or else his offensive impact will be diluted.

I expect Giddey to be one of the first names called on draft night. He has immense potential and could easily help turn a struggling franchise around. Outside of playmaking, Giddey may not have significant early returns, but as he grows his game, he could easily be one of the best players in the 2021 NBA Draft.

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