How good is Josh Giddey? Inside Aussie guard's 'All-Star potential' and tricky fit on Bulls roster | Sporting News Canada (2024)

The price that the Bulls paid to get Josh Giddey was exorbitant, which had many local and national pundits down on the trade from Chicago's side.I gave the Bulls a D- in my trade grades.

Most of the analysis was focused on how in the world the Bulls couldn't extract a pick from a team with the biggest draft stash in NBA history, while not addressing what they got back in Giddey.

It's widely accepted that Alex Caruso is a significantly better player than Giddey today, but even if the Bulls vastly overpaid, two completely separate questions arise. First, how high is Giddey's potential? And second, is Chicago the right destination to help him create the best version of himself?

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How good is Josh Giddey?

According to Thunder general manager Sam Presti, Giddey has "All-Star potential" that would never be realized in Oklahoma City. That All-Star high-end outcome is a bit of a stretch, but it is true that Giddey is a good prospect who was being held back by his situation.

Giddey is very clearly not a plug-and-play type of player. That was extremely obvious from his time in OKC. After his first two years, he was well-regarded around the league and in contention for a max extension. A collection of CBS Sports' expertshad him as the No. 15 player under 25, ahead of Scottie Barnes, Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren. ESPN's experts had him as the No. 53 player in the league, better than Zion Williamson, Barnes and Rudy Gobert.

A disastrous third year had Giddey's value plummeting. He was well outside of everyone's top 100 and slated to come off the bench. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't just the playoffs where he looked like he might be unplayable.

So why was Giddey fast-tracked for a massive extension after his first two years in the league, and what changed in that third year?

Giddey showed an extremely unique array of skills after a great sophom*ore season. His averages of 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game had been matched by only two players in NBA history at age 20 or younger — Magic Johnson and Luka Doncic.

Giddey's passing at his 6-8 height is truly a special combination. That size allows him to see and throw every pass in the book (and ones that have never been written, too). He's audacious with his reads, zipping the ball centimeters behind defenders' heads when they turn away from him.

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That size also makes him a great rebounder and capable of juicing up a team's offense through quick transition attacks.

Giddey's shooting is going to be a swing skill for him. He's improved from completely awful to being able to hit around a third of his wide-open looks thanks to help from the league's best shooting coach in Chip Engelland. Teams are still going to sag 15 feet off him until he improves that wide-open percentage.

Can Giddey get to a T.J. McConnell-type level where he hits the wide-open ones at about 40 percent?

Giddey is frustrating as a driver as well. He does not embrace contact, which leads to an over-reliance on a mediocre floater and very few trips to the free-throw line. The combination of a lack of 3s, heavy reliance on 7-foot floaters and almost no free throws leads to poor scoring efficiency. He can get points up, but it takes him a lot of shots to do it.

In theory, Giddey can post up smaller guards. In practice, he's been wildly inefficient on those shots. And while his size should make him a good defender, he's been well below average on that end due to a lack of athleticism.

While that sounds like a lot of issues, many of these weaknesses can either be shored up or hidden on the right team, and great offensive creation trumps all of those negatives. We have seen Giddey succeed through his first two years. Does Chicago fit that early Thunder bill? The answer is maybe.

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How good is Josh Giddey? Inside Aussie guard's 'All-Star potential' and tricky fit on Bulls roster | Sporting News Canada (1)

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Are the Bulls the right fit for Josh Giddey?

The big issue for Giddey in Oklahoma City was that he needed the ball in his hands to be at his best. He wasn't going to get that with much better creators in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams alongside him. Giddey can't space the floor, so he was marginalized in that starting lineup.

Will that same problem happen again in Chicago? The Bulls' roster is in flux, so it's hard to say. Zach LaVine could be on his way out. DeMar DeRozan is a free agent who could leave, too. If the Bulls do keep both players, then Giddey is going to be set up for failure once again.

Giddey needs to play alongside shooters and good play finishers who he can set up for easy baskets. That makes him a great candidate to play next to Coby White, who is more of a scoring guard than a pure point guard.

Nikola Vucevic is the worst kind of center to pair next to Giddey. Ideally, he needs a stretch big who can clean up at the rim for his poor one-on-one defense. Vucevic was the worst high-volume shooter in the league and one of the worst rim-protecting centers. The Bulls are stuck with his bloated contract for the next two seasons. A trade may be necessary.

Patrick Williams is also a restricted free agent that the Bulls will have to make a decision on. Before the Caruso trade, I thought that the Bulls should have let him go. Now, they are almost forced to overpay to keep him. He is the exact type of 3-and-D wing that Giddey must be surrounded by to succeed.

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In trading Caruso, the Bulls seemed to signal that they are ready to take a temporary step back in order to better balance out their roster. They should have a great pick in a loaded 2025 draft to add yet another young prospect alongside Giddey. If they can offload some of their other veterans, they could turn over most of their roster outside of Williams, White and Ayo Dosunmu over the next few seasons. Those three already fit very well with Giddey on paper.

The Bulls could be one of the best fits for Giddey in the league if they take this route. If they did remake their roster and surround him with shooters and defenders, there's a clear path toward him becoming a solid No. 2 or 3 guy on a playoff team.

The ceiling of that team might be capped — the last one to win a ring with a point guard who didn't shoot or defend at a high level was the 1999 Spurs with Avery Johnson, which was in a very different era of the league. We may never see it happen again.

Ceiling aside, Giddey could fill up box scores, play a very entertaining style of basketball and get the Bulls back to the postseason. That seems like the goal that the team is shooting for anyway.

Giddey would have been one of the best buy-low candidates in the league. The Bulls instead paid a premium, getting destroyed in the negotiation. But they did get a prospect with good potential in return.

How good is Josh Giddey? Inside Aussie guard's 'All-Star potential' and tricky fit on Bulls roster | Sporting News Canada (2024)
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