‘Going to be critical’: The tactical change that could see Australia‘s rising NBA star explode

The Thunder trialled a tactical change against the Pelicans that could open the door for Josh Giddey to become even more devastating.

Giddey shoots against the Pelicans. Picture: Zach Beeker / NBAE via Getty Images
Giddey shoots against the Pelicans. Picture: Zach Beeker / NBAE via Getty Images

NBA young gun Josh Giddey is already wreaking havoc in his debut season and a new tactical change from his coach may allow the young Aussie to become even more devastating.

For the first time since arriving at the Oklahoma City Thunder, Giddey played the exact same minutes as fellow guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Thursday’s game (AEDT) against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Thunder went down in the dying seconds, but Giddey believed the double-team tactic was a major silver lining to come out of the defeat.

“I honestly loved it; it’s the first time we’ve done it,” Giddey said after the 113-110 loss.

“Shai draws so much attention and creates so much space for me.”

That extra space allowed Giddey to run riot.

He finished the game with 17 points (just shy of his personal-best haul of 19), nine rebounds and seven assists to his name.

“One of the things that we’re trying to explore with the team is having (Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander) in their own units, with some staggering, but also those guys on the court together,” coach Mark Daigneault explained.

“I thought tonight was a good night to do that.

“Those guys both played off each other very well. It’s a good sign of progress because it’s going to be critical that they’re both better because they’re playing with the other one.”

Daigneault’s tactical move went down a treat with Gilgeous-Alexander, too.

“It’s always easy and fun (playing with Giddey),” he said.

“Josh is obviously really young and a really good talent.

“My job is to help the (developmental) process.”

Giddey (L) and Gilgeous-Alexander (R) make a good team. Picture: Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images
Giddey (L) and Gilgeous-Alexander (R) make a good team. Picture: Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Thursday’s game marked another milestone for Giddey, who played an entire quarter for the first time in his young NBA career.

Coach Daigneault said the young Aussie handled the extra workload with aplomb.

“I thought he was just lost in the game, competitively,” he said.

“He played the whole first and the whole third (quarters).

“That’s hard to do at a high level. His ability to chew that up and spit it out and not really have it affect him is impressive.

“The thing that impresses me is he’s not afraid of the play. He’s succeeded a lot of times this year, he’s failed a lot of times this year but he just steps into shots, he steps right into plays.

“He plays with no fear of consequences. He just plays.”

Giddey continues to impress his coach. Picture: Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images
Giddey continues to impress his coach. Picture: Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

The Thunder’s clash with the Pelicans ended in the most gripping of circumstances.

With just over a second on the clock, Gilgeous-Alexander chanced his arm and shot from well beyond the three-point arc. The ball sailed through the air for a triple, levelling the scores and sending the Oklahoma City crowd into a frenzy.

Devonte’ Graham struck back for the Pelicans, though, shooting from just outside OKC’s three-point line to beat the buzzer with a 61-foot basket that broke the home crowd’s heart.

“They were two great shots, crazy shots,” said Daigneault.

“I thought we did what we could do in terms of execution down the stretch of the game.

“If we executed one or two other things tonight, we could’ve been on the other side of that.”

Originally published as ‘Going to be critical’: The tactical change that could see Australia‘s rising NBA star explode

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