NBA 2022: Josh Giddey OKC Thunder secret weapon, shooting, responds to award snubs, NBA2K23, when does season start

Josh Giddey says he’s determined to take his game to the next level and ensure there’s no second-year blues following his stellar NBA rookie campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 19-year-old exceeded expectations in his first season, impressing with his all-court playmaking skills and breaking the record for the youngest player to have a triple-double in NBA history.

But Giddey hasn’t played a proper NBA game since injuring his hip in March and he’s itching to get back out on court when the new season begins next month.

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“It’s getting close, the guys are excited,” Giddey told news.com.au.

“Off-season’s been good, working on things I need to work on. Back in OKC now, the team’s together, all the guys are excited and ready to get going.”

Giddey has been spending plenty of time in the gym this off-season to ensure his body can withstand the rigours of a marathon 82-game NBA season.

“Yeah the body’s feeling good, ready to go,” he said.

“We’ve got a great medical staff here and they take great care of all of us. They’ve been great with me, just finetuning things I need to with my body. Obviously taking care of that hip last year was important.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the weight room making sure those little niggles that happen throughout the year can be prevented as much as possible and I can get through a healthy 82 games.

“It’s a long season so taking care of your body is a really important part of being an NBA player.”

Oklahoma City is in the midst of a long rebuild and has gone down the path of amassing numerous draft picks in the hope of contending for a championship later this decade.

One of those picks turned into seven-footer Chet Holmgren, who was taken by the Thunder at No. 2 in the NBA Draft.

Holmgren and Giddey gave fans a tantalising glimpse of the future when they starred playing alongside each other at Summer League earlier this year.

But Holmgren likely won’t play an NBA game this season after suffering a Lisfranc foot injury during an exhibition game last month.

It’s a cruel blow for OKC, who finished second last in the Western Conference standings last season and are set to struggle to reach 30 wins again.

But Giddey, who will take on more responsibility alongside franchise star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, is optimistic and said the Thunder’s goal is to improve and be competitive in every game

“The common goal around the group is to be better than what we were last year,” he said.

“I’ll say the same thing next year, you want to keep gradually improving. It’s hard to go from a rebuilding team to a championship team in one year.

“I think being competitive every night is something we want to pride ourselves on. There were nights last year where it was evident teams were more experienced, older, more talented teams than us.

“But I think this year if we can come out with the mentality that we can compete with anybody, that’s going to put us in good stead going forward.

“I’m excited for this team, it’s a hungry group. Guys have been working this summer, so I’m excited to see what we can do this year.”

Giddey impressed in his rookie year but missing a chunk of the season with injury meant he was overlooked for the Rookie of the Year award and selection in the NBA All-Rookie First Team.

The snubs clearly didn’t sit well with him at the time but Giddey is focused on improving and letting his basketball do the talking.

“At the end of day, I don’t get to decide who gets on what team, it just plays out the way it does,” he said.

“The guys who made the First Team were all deserving. It’s a stacked rookie class that we had last year and there’s talent from top to bottom. I don’t really think anything of it other than you move forward now.

“In 20 years, no one’s going to look back like, ‘Josh made this team or this team’. So it’s not the end of the world for me.

“I’m excited for this year. Not just me but I’m sure these other rookies are working this summer with points to prove and I think it’s going to be an exciting season.”

The one criticism of Giddey’s game so far has been his shooting and ability to hit the scoreboard.

But that could change after legendary shooting guru Chip Engelland joined the Thunder this off-season as an assistant coach after a long stint at the San Antonio Spurs.

“Shooting was a big one for me this off-season,” Giddey said.

“Spent a lot of time in the gym getting up shots. Obviously having Chip England here — one of the best shooting coaches if not the best in the world — here at the Thunder is someone that’s perfect for me to use as much as possible. He’s been great.”

Asked if Engelland has tweaked his shooting style at all, Giddey said: “Not really. Chip’s hard to explain. He’s a wizard with what he does.

“It’s not unorthodox but it’s different to every other coach that I’ve had, who’s said, ‘Shoot this way’. Chip is one of the best guys I’ve been around. He’s obviously been doing this for so long with San Antonio.

“When I found out he was coming to OKC I was very excited for that and knew he was someone I was going to be spending a lot of time with. He’s been great and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with him.”

Giddey is already one of the biggest names in Australian basketball and he was rewarded with a solid ranking of 82 in the latest edition of the NBA2K video game released last week.

“It’s very cool to be part of a game I’ve played for such a long time,” he said.

“To be in it now, it’s a lot of fun to play with my teammates and myself. The ranking, I’m happy with it.

“Second year to be where I am, it is 2K so I’m happy with the rating and looking forward to seeing the differences from last year to this year.”

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