The Washington Wizards are picking in the middle of the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Whether they trade up, down or stay firm at No. 15, here is the latest in our series on draft prospects whom the Wizards could consider selecting.
2021 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Josh Giddey
School/team: Adelaide 36ers
2020/21 stats: 28 G, 10.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 7.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.5 bpg, 42.7 FG% (4.1/9.5), 29.3 3PT% (1.0/3.5), 69.1 FT%
Player comparison: Joe Ingles, Deni Avdija
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 18th, Ringer 13th, NBADraft.net 16th, Bleacher Report 12th
5 things to know:
- Giddey's greatest strength is his passing. He's advanced in that area of the game for an 18-year-old and has a great feel for the game. A lot of players can make simple reads based on what look a defense throws at them in pick and roll, but Giddey has an ability to think one step ahead and create open looks for his teammates. If the rest of his game comes around, the passing will separate him from other prospects in his class.
- Giddey isn't an elite athlete with the kind of burst that can get him to the rim at will, but he's a savvy player who creates open looks for himself in a different way. He plays at his own pace, is a solid finisher at the rim and already has a Luka Doncic-like step-back three in his arsenal.
- The only problem is Giddey's jump shot isn't exactly dependable. He shot below 30% from three last season with Adelaide and 69% from the free-throw line. His mechanics are slow, inconsistent, and that's evident when you look at his shooting percentages. Giddey will need to improve as a jump-shooter to force defenders to go over screens. If not, he won't be as dynamic a playmaker, which would ultimately limit his upside as a player.
- Giddey's thin frame and slow feet on defense limit him as an on-ball defender. He has the instincts and length to be an effective help defender lurking in passing lanes, but don't expect him to be a lockdown defender at the next level. Whatever team Giddey plays for will have to get creative with where he is on defense unless we see a significant improvement on that end of the floor.
- In what's likely another way to project Giddey's future role in an NBA defense, he has a knack for weak-side rebounding. He crashes the glass well and quickly looks to push the ball in transition. This inherently maximizes his passing ability by opening up playmaking windows outside of a half-court setting, where Giddey's shooting woes aren't as big an inhibitor on his overall impact.
Fit with Wizards:
Giddey is an intriguing prospect who does a lot of things well and certainly has a path to becoming a very good NBA player. However, he is not someone the Wizards should be targeting on draft night. Giddey is at his best when the ball is in his hands in transition and as a playmaker in the half-court, but he still has questions to answer on defense and it's no guarantee he becomes a good 3-point shooter.
Sound familiar? The Wizards just drafted a player in the lottery with a similar skillset in Deni Avdija. Avdija is a much better athlete and defender than Giddey is at this stage, but his offensive role last season didn't fully maximize his skills.
Playing alongside Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and two backup point guards in Ish Smith and Raul Neto, Avdija was relegated to a spot-up shooting role. If the Wizards took Giddey, they'd have to figure out how to get him reps as a ball-handler when it's already in their best interest to do that for Avdija.
Giddey is a fine player with plenty of upside, but there are a bunch of wings in this draft better suited to help the Wizards next year and who'd fit better with Avdija.