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3 best destinations for Josh Giddey in 2021 NBA Draft

Josh Giddey, NBA Draft, Thunder

Australia’s Josh Giddey is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-8 guard spent the past year playing for the Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League (NBL). He won the NBL’s 2021 Rookie of the Year award, averaging 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and a league-high 7.6 assists across 28 contests.

The 18-year-old became the youngest player in NBL history to record a triple-double.

Giddey declared for the NBA Draft in late April. He is one of 20 players to receive an invitation to sit in the green room during the draft at Barclays Center.

In anticipation of the NBA’s Draft on July 29, let’s examine the three best destinations for the playmaking guard.

3. New Orleans Pelicans

Owners of the 10th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Pelicans could look to augment their backcourt with their first-round selection. Lonzo Ball, a restricted free agent, is rumored to be on his way out of town. The Pelicans are reportedly uninterested in matching any major offer sheet given to Ball by an opposing team in free agency.

Veteran combo guard Eric Bledsoe is a trade candidate and does not fit into the long-term plans of the franchise. The Pelicans do have 2019 first-rounder Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who can play the 1 and the 2, and point guard Kira Lewis Jr., the 13th pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, on their roster. Alexander-Walker shined last season when he saw enhanced playing time.

Assuming the Pelicans do let Ball walk in free agency, they will need someone to replace his playmaking. Josh Giddey, touted as one of the premier passers of the draft class, could fit the bill for the Pelicans. Coveting players who can facilitate the offense, the Pelicans should strongly consider the pass-first Giddey.

2. San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs face an offseason of certainty. Their best player, DeMar DeRozan, is an unrestricted free agent. Turning 32 in August, DeRozan might not want to be a part of the Spurs’ rebuild. An All-Star snub this past year, DeRozan produced 21.6 points per contest with a career-best 6.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds. He shot an efficient 49.5 percent from the field. His absence would eliminate just about any chance of the Spurs flirting with playoff contention, as they did for much of last season.

Looking to build for the long haul, the Spurs could target Josh Giddey with the 12th overall pick because of his high ceiling. His ability to knock down jumpers is a cause for concern, but there would be time for him to develop an outside shot on a rebuilding club. His expertise on defense could lure the Spurs to nab the young prospect in the lottery.

Selecting a two-way player with Giddey’s upside and high basketball IQ is a logical path for a team like the Spurs, who lack a clear path to regain their once-elite status in the league.

1. Golden State Warriors

In addition to owning the seventh pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors also occupy the 14th overall selection. If it was up to Josh Giddey, it sounds like he’d prefer the Warriors to use one of their two lottery picks on him.

Giddey’s abilities as a distributor make him an ideal candidate to lead Golden State’s second unit when superstar Stephen Curry sits. He could also theoretically play alongside Curry when star shooting guard Klay Thompson takes a breather.

The Warriors feature plenty of shooting, so Giddey’s inconsistencies from the outside could be masked easier.

Luc Longley, a special advisor to the NBL’s Sydney Kings, has lobbied for Warriors head coach Steve Kerr to select Giddey in the draft. Longley and Kerr were teammates on the Chicago Bulls during the franchise’s three-peat from 1996-98.

Longley compared Giddey to LaMelo Ball, who also won the NBL Rookie of the Year in his lone season (2019-20) in the league. LaMelo Ball captured the NBA’s Rookie of the Year honors this past season and looks like a franchise cornerstone for the Charlotte Hornets.

There’s a decent chance Giddey will not be available by the time Golden State is on the clock at 14. But if he’s there for the taking, Giddey could get his wish and join the Warriors.