Australian basketballer Josh Giddey has confessed he was disappointed not to receive a single vote for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, despite turning heads this year with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Giddey finished his rookie season averaging 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 54 appearances — he was named the Western Conference’s Rookie of the Month four times, quickly becoming one of the Oklahoma City’s most reliable playmakers.
The 19-year-old’s maiden season ended prematurely after he suffered a hip injury in February, weeks after becoming the youngest NBA player in history to score a triple double. He also earned a place in the Rising Stars Challenge at the NBA All-Star weekend in Cleveland.
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But despite a record-breaking season for the Australian, it wasn’t enough to convince the global voting panel of 100 sports writers and broadcasters.
Toronto’s Scottie Barnes (378 votes) narrowly bettered Cleveland’s Evan Mobley (363 votes) for the award, with Detroit’s Cade Cunningham (154 votes) placing third.
“It was disappointing,” Giddey told The Age.
“I missed a lot of games, which I understand, it is what it is. But I don’t want to dig too much into it.
“Looking back in five or 10 years, it’s not going to bother me, so it sucks, it is disappointing, but we move on.”
Australian basketball icon Andrew Gaze believes that Giddey could have won the award if not for his untimely injury.
“If Josh had continued on the path he was on, I think he definitely would have been in the top three finalists and in the conversation to win the Rookie award,” Gaze said last week.
“In the end he got injured and that is what hurt him.
“We are biased because we’d love to see Josh in there, but he missed so many games at the back end of the season and you look at the three finalists and say, ‘Who is going to miss out?’
“I think Josh is next in line behind those guys. He has been outstanding, but so have those guys as well.
“Josh is a big part of the Thunder’s future.
“They gave him a lot of time on the court. I don’t think he would have had the same opportunities on a team in the playoff mix.”
After Giddey’s departure, Oklahoma City won six of its final 23 games to finish with a season record of 24-58, placing them 14th on the Western Conference.
“It was tough to sit there and watch,” Giddey told The Age.
“In the end, we ran out of games (to return in) but I’m healthy now and will have a full off-season under my belt and get straight back into next season.
“The NBA season is a long, long season. You can’t understand it until you have experienced it as you play back-to-back games, you get into different cities at 2am or 3am in the morning. It’s a busy schedule.”
Giddey hopes to represent the Australian Boomers at next year’s FIBA World Cup and the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
The teenager reportedly earned AU$8.2 million during his first season in the NBA.