OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — For the second time in five years, the Oklahoma City Thunder went Down Under to find a first-round pick in the NBA draft, taking Josh Giddey at No. 6 on Thursday night.
The 18-year-old Giddey, a 6-foot-8 guard from Melbourne, Australia, attended the NBA Global Academy in 2019-20 and played last season for the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s National Basketball League. He was named the league’s rookie of the year after averaging 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and a league-best 7.6 assists per game.
He already has an Oklahoma connection: His sister, Hannah Giddey, is a 6-foot-1 forward headed into her sophomore season at Oral Roberts in Tulsa, about 100 miles from Oklahoma City. Giddey called it a “dream situation” to be able to play so close to his sister.
“Oklahoma is actually one of my favorite teams and to be picked by them it’s a dream come true,” he said. “So, love the guys, the coaches, the staff on the team and really happy to be there.”
Oklahoma City traded its second first-round pick, at No. 16, to Houston and chose Alperen Sengun for the Rockets. The Thunder received a pair of future first-round picks in return.
The Thunder also took Tre Mann, a 6-foot-5 guard from Florida, with the No. 18 overall pick in the first round.
“We felt it was an extremely productive night for us,” Thunder’general manager, Sam Presti said. “We are excited about the players that we were able to add and excited about those guys coming into the program. They all bring something different and I think will be positive contributors to the organization. They all have a lot of work in front of them and this is just the starting point for their careers. … We’re looking forward to walking with them through their development paths.”
Giddey is the first NBA Global Academy graduate to be drafted into the NBA and the highest-drafted player from Australia since Ben Simmons, who went first overall to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016.
Giddey is the eighth Australian to be drafted in the first round. Although he wasn’t from Australia, in 2017, the Thunder used the No. 21 overall pick on Terrance Ferguson, who had played for the 36ers the previous season.
“To follow on from the guys we have had (from Australia) go through the NBA, it means a lot to me and I looked up to those guys for a long time and I speak to them and try and get advice from them,” 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.”
Should Giddey play for the Thunder next season, he’ll be the second teenager on the Thunder roster, joining Aleksej Pokusevski, who won’t turn 20 until December. The Thunder obtained Pokusevski, the 17th pick of the 2020 NBA draft, through a trade with Minnesota.
Giddey “is somebody that really has a lot of room to grow as a basketball player, but already has shown through his experience overseas the ability to impact professional games at a very, very young age,” Presti said. “He makes other people better and that’s a really important trait as we continue to add other players to our team.”
Mann averaged 16.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for Florida as a sophomore. He finished eighth in the Southeastern Conference in scoring and sixth in free-throw percentage (83.1) and assists per game (3.5). He was an All-SEC second-team selection.
He’s the first first-round draft pick produced by the Gators since Bradley Beal in 2012.
“We’re all just so excited for Tre,” Florida coach Mike White said. “He has put in an incredible amount of work to get to this point, and his dedication, commitment and maturity have helped him reach this goal. He has earned this moment, and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
In the second round, the Thunder picked up 6-foot-9 forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl of Villanova. He led the Wildcats in scoring (15.7 points per game) and rebounding (8.5 per game) while helping them advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.
The Thunder swapped two of its second-round picks, at No. 34 and No. 36, with New York for the rights to Robinson-Earl, who the Knicks selected at No. 32.
“The Thunder are lucky to be getting a high-character, hard working young man,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said on Twitter. “Jeremiah is ready to compete at the next level in the NBA.”
With the No. 55 pick, Oklahoma City selected Aaron Wiggins, a 6-foot-6 guard from Maryland who averaged 14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season as a junior. As a sophomore, he was named as the Big Ten Conference’s sixth man of the year as the Terrapins won the league title.