Australia's Josh Giddey has had a lifelong dream fulfilled after being selected with the sixth pick in the NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder and in the process has become the highest Australian ever drafted directly from the NBL, surpassing Chris Anstey, who was selected 18th in 1997.
Giddey, 18, spent the 2020/21 season with the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL as part of the NBL Next Stars program, following on with fellow rising stars LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton, who were selected with the third and 24th picks respectively in the 2020 draft.
With an amazing feel for the game and an outstanding basketball IQ, Giddey has the potential to be a special player for a long time to come and his talents were on full display for the basketball world to see right from the get go in the NBL.
In his lone season in the NBL, Giddey averaged 10.9 points, 7.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game on his way to winning the NBL rookie of the year. Giddey was also the first Australian in NBL history to record back-to-back triple doubles.
Speaking to the NBL, Giddey said it was a dream come true to be selected by the Thunder as early as he did.
"It's a dream come true so to be taken by the Thunder and to have them want me on their team it makes me feel really special and I couldn't be happier." Giddey said.
"The Australian basketball community is really tight. So, to have those guys by my side and supporting me through this whole process has been really good for me.
"Watching LaMelo and R.J. Hampton go through that same process and see how well their game translated from the NBL to the NBA gave me confidence going in that hopefully I can do something a little bit similar.
"Lucky enough I did, I landed in a good spot and having LaMelo and R.J. with the attention they brought from America to Australia was big, and I was just lucky enough that the limelight was still on me at the time.
"They had so much attention on the league and it allowed me to go in there with lots of eyes on it so it was a good time for me to enter the league."
NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger added to the excitement by congratulating Giddey on his selection to the NBA, which further validated the NBL as a legitimate pathway to being drafted in the NBA.
"The entire NBL family congratulates Josh Giddey on being drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the sixth selection." Loeliger said.
"This is the culmination of years of hard work from Josh and it is a day he and his family will never forget. Josh is a fantastic ambassador for Australian basketball and we have no doubt he will do us proud on the NBA stage.
"It is also a landmark day for Australian basketball and the NBL, as we further validate ourselves as a league that provides strong and legitimate pathways to the NBA.
"Josh's drafting showcases the strength of the NBL's Next Stars program. He becomes the fifth Next Star to progress to the NBA, joining Brian Bowen Jr, LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton and Didi Louzada. Meanwhile, Illawarra Hawks Next Star Justinian Jessup was drafted by the Golden State Warriors last year and will try to make their roster with a strong NBA Summer League.
"We wish Josh the very best of luck in Oklahoma City and can't wait to watch him develop and grow."
Giddey will now head to Oklahoma, where he will join his new teammates for the beginning of training camp.