Aussie youngster Josh Giddey could be set for a mega payday if he continues his meteoric rise in the upcoming NBA season.
Giddey has been named at No. 53 in ESPN’s annual list of the NBA’s top 100 players, coming in ahead of the likes of Chris Paul, Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green and Zion Williamson.
Watch every game of the NBL season with ESPN on Kayo Sports. Join Kayo now and start streaming instantly >
His Oklahoma City Thunder is widely tipped to be the big improver this season, with MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading a young team that is welcoming back seven-footer Chet Holmgren, who missed his rookie season with injury.
The Thunder finished last season with a 40-42 record but are tipped to win more games than they lose this season and make the playoffs for the first time since the 2019-2020 campaign.
“The Thunder are expected to take a leap forward this season,” ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk wrote.
“If so, Giddey will have to take another one himself. The point guard is entering his third season after finishing 2022-23 strong, averaging 20.2 points, 6.7 assists, 9.1 rebounds in his final eight games.
“But can Giddey show big improvement in his shooting after averaging 48.2% from the field and 32.5% from 3?”
It’s significant recognition and a major vote in confidence in Giddey, who has just celebrated his 21st birthday as he gears up for his third NBA season.
Leading NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski is extremely bullish on OKC’s future, telling ESPN: “I think there are 4 potential All-Stars in that (Thunder) line-up down the road, and maybe (Chet) Holmgren’s a potential MVP candidate.”
Giddey has spoken about wanting to get to the free throw line more often and improve his three-point shot — and if he does, he could well be an All-Star and Most Improved Player candidate.
And if he makes that kind of leap, Giddey could be in line for a mega $300 million contract extension similar to deals signed by LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton after they made the All-Star Game.
ESPN’s top 100 list ranked Giddey ahead of Memphis’ Desmond Bane, who signed a five-year, $322 million (AUD) extension on his rookie deal in July.
The Aussie will be eligible for a similar contract extension on his rookie deal, which will see him earn around $10.2 million (AUD) in his third season.
But such a pay rise will depend on the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement that kicks in this season and is expected to cause a salary cap squeeze at many teams.
There are more Australians than ever playing in the NBA this season, with several Aussies swapping teams over the off-season.
The NBA season begins on October 24.
Australians in the NBA
Josh Giddey — OKC Thunder
Jack White — OKC Thunder
Patty Mills — Atlanta Hawks
Jock Landale — Houston Rockets
Dante Exum — Dallas Mavericks
Josh Green — Dallas Mavericks
Duop Reath — Portland Trailblazers
Matisse Thybulle — Portland Trailblazers
Joe Ingles — Orlando Magic
Xavier Cooks — Washington Wizards
Dejan Vasiljevic — Washington Wizards
Makur Maker — Toronto Raptors