Josh Giddey has made a rare appearance in front of the media, opening up about his difficult NBA season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Giddey, 21, was contesting his third NBA season when leaked social media images and allegations of an inappropriate relationship with an underage female emerged.
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Giddey won’t face charges after police in California found “no corroborating evidence” to support the claims made against the Australian, while the NBA is yet to conclude its investigation into the allegations.
On court, Giddey has been the subject of trade speculation this year and his stats have been down across the board following two excellent seasons to commence his career.
He picked an ideal time to step up for the young Thunder team on Monday, Australian time, producing a game-high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting, adding six boards, six assists and two blocks in a 135-127 double-overtime win over Toronto.
The Victorian was crucial in OKC even getting to the first extra period, forcing a turnover in the dying seconds of regulation to regain possession for his team, then threading a perfect pass to Aaron Wiggins for the game-tying lay-up.
Giddey has had to play a different role this season, with the emergence of rookie big man Chet Holmgren altering the Thunder’s style and focus.
Coach Mark Daigneault reserved praise for Giddey after OKC overcame a 23-point third quarter deficit against the Raptors.
“He played with great intensity tonight, especially on the defensive end of the floor and on the glass,” Daigneault said.
“I thought he did a great job from a physical standpoint. He had different match-ups and I think he did a great job with that.
“Then offensively I think he played with great decisiveness. His shooting and also his driving and his movement off the ball — I think he had great balance tonight.”
Giddey has been improving from three-point range, hitting 2-of-5 from deep on Monday.
He spoke at length after the game about his troubles in his third season in the NBA.
“It’s been a different year for me,” Giddey said.
“With guys coming in, sacrifice is needed for a team like this and the success we’ve had requires that.
“Guys have done a great job of making the right play and we’ve got so much talent on this team it’s not going to be everyone’s night every night.
“Guys have done a great job being unselfish, making the extra pass and making the extra play and that’s where I think we’ve had success so far.
“I’m just trying to get back to me. I thought tonight was a good step in the right direction in terms of confidence and decision-making.”
While the Thunder were widely tipped to improve this season, they have impressed all with a 35-15 record nearing the All-Star break, and are equal with Minnesota atop the Western Conference.
The trade deadline falls on February 8 and Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze said he believes it’s a “realistic prospect” Giddey could get traded.
The Thunder may also opt not to mess with a winning team and Giddey, the sixth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, said he is getting enormous help as he battles through a taxing 2023/24 campaign.
“It’s not going to be overnight. It takes time. Progress is never linear,” he said.
“I’m 21 years old, I’m going to go through tough stretches as I’ve been through most of the season, but I’m trying to not let it faze me.
“It is tough at times when you go through these stretches you’re in the middle of and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But you’ve got to think big picture.
“Everyone goes through this. I’ve been good having people to lean on. Teammates, coaches, external people that have been awesome in helping me deal with that.”
The Thunder’s next game is against the Jazz in Utah on Wednesday (AEDT).