Projected NBA first-round draft pick Josh Giddey joins Michael Scotto on the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast. The pair discuss Giddey’s time in the NBL, his scouting report, player comparisons, the Olympics, and much more. For more interviews with players, coaches and media members, be sure to subscribe to the HoopsHype podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. Listen to the podcast above or check out some snippets of the conversation in a transcribed version below.
0:50 Where did you feel like you could’ve played college basketball instead of playing professionally in the NBL?
Giddey: It was a tough decision. It was one that I put a lot of thought into and I really tossed and turned about whether to go pro or go the college route. Earlier on when I was in the 10th and 11th grade, I was really set on college. I took a visit to Colorado University. I was there on the official visit. When I got back, I was almost 99 percent locked in to go there, but then that’s when I got back and I really started talking to people and thinking hard about it. I decided to stay here and play pro, but I did go to college, I probably would’ve gone to Colorado. I probably would’ve taken a few more visits to probably Arizona and Baylor as well, but if I was going to commit anywhere, it was probably going to be Colorado.
2:33 Who did you grow up watching and idolizing while trying to mold your basketball game?
Giddey: I was always around the game because my dad was a coach with the Melbourne Tigers in the NBL. Ever since I was 2 or 3, I was always at the practices watching them. I used to watch a lot of their games. Andrew Gaze was a big idol for me. He was a superstar in Australia. I got to watch him when I was younger. Just the way he was a tall point guard and the best to play in Australia. We have a really good relationship still to this day.
3:50 How did watching LaMelo Ball have success in the NBL and make the transition to the NBA affect your confidence in playing in the NBL to best prepare you for the NBA?
Giddey: When LaMelo first came to Australia, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’d only seen him on all the social media stuff. It’s a really physical and tough league to play in. I think he surprised everyone with how well he did. To see how well he’s translated from the NBL to the NBA gives me a lot of confidence moving forward to see that if he was able to do it, that gives me the confidence I’m able to do the same things.
5:30 Do you feel like you’ve gotten similar buzz to what LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton got playing in the NBL Next Stars program, or is there maybe an underrated aspect, and maybe people don’t know you as well as they should?
Giddey: I didn’t have the same hype coming into the league. They were big stars in high school and the States. They carried a big fan base with them when they came over here. I was really just unknown until maybe a year ago from now. When I signed with the 36ers, nobody knew what to expect because I hadn’t played in front of anybody for a long time. I think I’ve done a good job of exceeding expectations and playing at a level I think people really didn’t see me playing at. It’s given me confidence moving forward. I did fly a lot under the radar my whole junior career and right up until probably 12 months ago. It’s kind of how I’ve always been, the underdog. I never really made state teams or any of the teams that I wanted to try to make when I was a junior coming through those ranks. It added fuel to the fire and got me to work harder. Being someone that’s been overlooked and gone through those hard times of not making the teams I’ve wanted to has kind of molded me into the player I am today.
7:05 What were your expectations going into the season with Adelaide?
Giddey: I always play with a lot of confidence. I have a lot of confidence in myself. I had a really good offseason. That was the big thing for me because I was really skinny when I first signed the contract with the 36ers. I knew it was something I had to address. I had a really good offseason where I put on a good 10-12 kilos and bulked up.
When our import point guard arrived, I came off the bench for him. A few games in, things didn’t really work out for him and he left. That’s when the doors really opened up for me. The coach kind of handed the keys to me and said this is your team and you’re going to be the point guard. Ever since that day, I think I’ve taken the opportunity with both hands and ran away with it.
8:45 How was it for you as a teenager getting the keys to the offense, running a team, and leading a locker where you have guys that are over 30?
Giddey: At the start, it was kind of daunting because I was 17 years old when I got here and was like I’m going to have to boss 30-year-olds around and tell them what to do, where to be, and what we’re going to run. We’ve got a guy, Daniel Johnson, who’s a superstar in this league and a five-time club MVP. He’s my big, so I’m going to tell him what to do? At the start, it was do I really want to do that? As I grew into my role on the team, it was like this is what I’ve got to do. I think I earned the respect of my teammates and coaches. Now, I have that sense where I can talk to them freely and they listen. If I tell them, not in a rude way or anything, but if I tell them to do something on the floor, they’ll listen and they respect what I have to say.
10:25 Who was a veteran leader who took you under their wing and helped mentor you?
Giddey: Donald Sloan was a big one for me. I knew when they signed him that was the role he was going to play as a mentor for me. He did an awesome job. He left pretty early on in the season, but the short time we did have together was good because he’s been where I’m trying to get to and he understands what it takes to get to that position. After training one time, I went to sit on my seat and take my shoes off and relax and Sloan came over to me and he said, “What are you doing?” He took me over to the back court and we worked out for an hour and I was dripping sweat by the end. It just showed me what it was like to be a professional and the work you have to do outside of team practices to get to where you want to get to. We still stay in touch to this day. He had a big impact on me in the short time we were together.
11:45 What are your goals with Adelaide looking ahead?
12:40 Can we definitively say at this point you are going to declare for the NBA Draft?
Giddey: Yes, we can.
If Adelaide gets eliminated from the playoffs, would you stay with the team or maybe come to the United States and start preparing for the draft?
Giddey: I think I’ll stay here regardless if we come dead last or we’re first on the ladder. I think I’ll be here for the whole regular season until that’s over and we’ve played all our games. For me, it’s about sticking with it. I’ve never been one to not want to play regardless if we’re losing or winning.
14:35 Going into the draft, do you still feel underrated, and is there a chip on your shoulder?
Giddey: At the start of the year, I was a big fan of the mock drafts. I was never on them myself, but I used to love keeping up with the guys that were on them. To kind of see myself on those mock drafts now is pretty interesting because not even six months ago it was just funny to me because I was loving reading the mock drafts and all the stuff that got released about the top prospects and it was never about me, it was always about other guys. Now, to see myself on there is pretty cool. But every time I get asked about mocks, it really means nothing to me because it can change so quickly.
17:10 What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses that you’re working on heading into the draft?
Giddey: For me, the biggest strength for me is probably my passing. I have loved doing it since I was little because my dad always taught me a team-orientated style of basketball. I love getting guys open. It makes me happy to see someone else happy.
I wouldn’t say it’s a weakness, but my shooting was coming into the season. It was bad early on in the year. I think I was three of 20-something. Then, I talked with my assistant coach and said this was something we need to address and work on. We got in the gym and ever since that day, I’ve really flipped the switch and started knocking down the three down pretty consistently. By no means am I done working on it. I’ve still got a long way to go, so that’s probably the biggest thing I’m going to work on leading up to the draft.
19:30 Who would you compare your game to right now and projecting long-term?
Giddey: Right now, in a non-cocky or arrogant way, I’d probably say similar to Ben Simmons. Not just in the fact that we’re big point guards, but the fact that we both love and our strongest asset is playmaking, passing the ball, getting guys looks, getting out in transition, and making stuff happen. I think in a light comparison, I’d put Ben as the guy.
20:10 Have you heard any comparisons from other people that stick with you?
Giddey: I’ve heard Luka Doncic or Joe Ingles. They’re the two other guys I’ve heard. There was some European guy. I forget his name. It was him as well. They’re probably the three I’ve heard the most.
Where do you think you fall in between those three (including Ben Simmons) in terms of athleticism?
Giddey: I think coming into the season that was what people were worried about, but I think I’ve shown throughout the year it’s not a flaw by any means for me. You can’t teach athleticism or explosiveness, but I think it’s something I’ve worked on a lot in the offseason and has paid off. My hips used to be really tight and I didn’t really have the ability to explode off the foot that I do now. I’m not a freak athlete by any means, but I’m not a Joe Ingles type of athlete. I’m kind of in that middle section. I think.
22:00 How would you describe yourself off the court?
Giddey: I’m a pretty chill and fun guy. I like hanging out with my friends and playing Play Station. I’m a big shoe collector actually. I love shoes and clothes. I’m a basketball addict that’s always in the gym working out.
22:45 What was your favorite moment so far as a player and your toughest moment?
Giddey: I can definitely tell you the toughest. The toughest for me was in Australia we have a national tournament where you represent your state, my state was Victoria, and I never made the state team. My bottom age year of under-18 I thought this was the year, but I didn’t make it and that was probably the hardest thing for me to cope with because I was so set on making that team. The best moment was probably playing for the Boomers in the qualifying games against New Zealand and Hong Kong when I was 17.
24:42 With the Tokyo Olympics, how do you feel about it?
Giddey: At the time when I made the spot, I was a bit surprised because it was really on in the season when I was alright. I wasn’t anything special. As the season’s gone on and I’ve gotten better, I think there’s a more realistic chance of me being on that team. Obviously, Australia is a really deep basketball country and a talented group of players. I do think I have a chance of making that team and playing at the Olympics has been a lifelong dream of mine. I’ve watched it every year on TV. To represent my country in Tokyo would be awesome.
25:45 Would you play in the Olympics or prepare for your rookie NBA season?
Giddey: At this point, I probably would go, but there’s a conversation I’ve got to have with my agent and stuff like that. I’d absolutely love to go to Tokyo.
27:20 When an NBA GM asks why should he select you, what would you say?
Giddey: I think it’s because I make guys around me better. I love getting guys looks and passing the ball. I’m unselfish. I put the team ahead of myself. I’m pretty versatile on the floor. I can probably guard a few more positions obviously being a bit bigger.
28:00 What are your goals for your NBA career?
Giddey: I think the big one for me, and I haven’t thought really deeply into it yet, but the big thing for me is probably getting that second contract. I think everyone talks about that.
29:25 Have you kept tabs on the other guys at your position in your draft class and where do you think you rank among them?
30:20 Do you have an idea where you may be selected in the draft?
Giddey: A few mocks came out and one has me at nine, one has me at 13 or 14 and another one has me at 15. They’re all kind of around that mid to late lottery kind of range. As I’ve said, we’ve got a lot of season to play and if I just keep doing my thing I’m sure things will fall into place with me.
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto