Josh Giddey ‘made life hard’ for $288m NBA superstar

January 5, 2022

Since he was 14, Josh Giddey had been a fan of Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic.

"He was a guy I watched right when he entered the league,” Giddey said in July.

“He’s a bigger guy, pass first, came through a professional pathway college route same way I did. And he was just someone I loved to watch and you know, still do to this day.”

Giddey wasn't just watching Doncic or even sharing the court with him on Monday; he was "making things difficult" for his idol and breaking NBA records in the process.

Giddey (19 years and 84 days) surpassed LaMelo Ball as the youngest NBA player to record a triple-double with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 14 assists.

In a 95-86 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Giddey was dishing it out for his teammates and scoring points of his own, whether it was a crosscourt whip pass or a no-look dime. Giddey's work off the ball, however, was underappreciated at times, with the Australian recording four steals and causing plenty of difficulties for Doncic.

Doncic was making his comeback to the floor after missing 10 games after signing a five-year, $207 million ($A288m) supermax rookie agreement last year (five with an ankle injury and five more on the Covid-19 list). The Dallas superstar came close to a triple-double with 14 points, ten assists, nine rebounds, and one steal, but he also committed seven turnovers. Giddey pounced two minutes after the game started on Monday, handing Doncic his first.

“I picked one off earlier in the game and I knew he was going to throw that,” Giddey told reporters after the game.

“Not a lot of players could have read that because I was the lone man and saw him fake me out but I watch his game so much and knew the pass was coming.”

Giddey anticipated that Doncic would be the focal focus of the Mavericks' offence even in his return, and he used his intimate knowledge of the Slovenian's game to his advantage.

“Luka handles a lot of the ball for them,” the 19-year-old said.

“A lot of the time I’m guarding off the ball, so trying to make life hard for him, make him see bodies and put people in front of him and their other ballhandlers.

“I was kind of just reading his passes and to play against him, someone I’ve looked up to and modelled my game after for a long time.

“Passes that I threw, I could see him passing the same ones.”

It was just another example of Giddey's increased responsibility in order to improve his game in what has been a remarkable rookie season with the Thunder thus far. According to Dallas coach Jason Kidd, Giddey became the first player in 50 years to post a scoreless double-double, demonstrating the various ways he can affect winning.

“You look at some of the stat lines, ten rebounds and ten assists but doesn’t score, he has an impact on the game,” Kidd said prior to Monday’s game.

“It’s kinda old school, where he doesn’t have to score to make an impact. We understand that he can affect the game in different ways, we’ve gotta make it tough on him. He’s had a great rookie year.”

Kidd was full of praise after Monday’s win too, with the Hall of Famer praising Giddey’s selfless approach to the game.

“He’s unselfish,” Kidd added.

“As a 19-year old, he understands how to play the game. He’s comfortable with the ball. His teammates all know that if he has it, they’re gonna cut, because there’s a chance that they can get it. He’s comfortable shooting the 3.

“He has the total package. At 19, it’s just a matter of time of understanding how teams are going to play him. He’s as good as advertised.”