In all but 3 years, Josh Giddey has gone from hooping in Victoria to competing against LeBron James as one of the youngest Australians on the NBA’s courts. He was the first graduate of the Australian NBA Academy to be selected for the NBA draft, finding his home at the NBA’s youngest team, Oklahoma City Thunder. Since being drafted, Giddey has gone on to achieve many other firsts—among them, being the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.
Hailing from Melbourne, Josh Giddey’s game has been recognised by some of the greats, including LeBron James. Across the 2023 All Stars weekend James said of Giddey, “he’s going to get better and better, he’s a really good player for sure. You guys should be proud.”
Giddey is among the current class of Australian NBA players putting the country on the map, and has an undoubtedly bright future. In the midst of his back-to-back All-Star weekend appearances, Giddey made some time to sit down with Complex AU to reflect on the weekend, his last two years as a pro, and his latest partnership with JBL.
Back home we were watching you play in the All-Star weekend’s Rising Stars game, how was that experience?
It was a fun game, those events are always fun—getting to play with different rookies and sophomores around the league—guys you don’t necessarily know too well. The guys played hard and it was competitive. I’m sure everyone enjoyed it.
We caught the pregame fit as well, the blue coat was tough.
Yeah, it’s All-Star weekend so I had to dress up. My teammates are always dressing up, so I also kinda got hooked on it and dived into it more this year.
You’ve been with OKC for two years now, how have you grown and developed over time?
When I got drafted I was skinny, and since then I’ve gotten a lot stronger. There was a big emphasis on that for me coming in. Initially when I started out, I didn’t know what my role on the team would be. Gradually I found my feet and now understand the different roles. Now as a second year guy I’ve got a good feel for my role in the team—it’s gotten easier with time and my teammates and the coaching staff have made that process a lot smoother. It’s a fun environment and group to be in—we’re a young team and most of us started our careers roughly around the same time.
You’re in Utah at the moment for the All-Star weekend for your second time, surrounded by the NBA’s best hoopers. How does it feel to be representing Australia at an event as big as the All-Star weekend?
It feels great. The excitement level doesn’t change from year one to year two. I get to represent Oklahoma, the organisation, and the fans, but most importantly I get to represent my country. To feel the support from all the fans back home, especially being on the other side of the globe, it’s awesome for me. I’m sure the other Australians in the league feel it throughout the season too. It means the world to us—to have a whole country behind us that’s so passionate about the NBA and basketball. You can’t ask for much more.
Now that you’re in your second year, tell me about your ‘welcome to the NBA’ moment?
I mean there’s a couple for sure, but anytime I’ve stepped on the floor with one of the guys I’ve looked up to. For me, it was stepping on the floor with LeBron for the first time. It was surreal. Growing up he was always my favourite player. You have to switch from being a fan to realising that you’re competing against these guys and trying to win. That was my welcome to the NBA moment.
Congrats on the recent JBL partnership, tell me a little more about this partnership.
Thanks man. I was excited when the opportunity to partner with JBL came up. I always used to use JBL speakers—growing up I had one. In primary school and all throughout high school I had one in the shower that I used every morning. Fast forward ten years later, and I’m now partnering with the brand. I’m excited about what’s to come.
Off the back of that, what music are you bumping these days?
I like a lot of Drake and Lil Baby, but my guilty pleasure is James Arthur. I’ve been listening to a lot of him lately, he’s been in rotation heaps recently.
We’ve been following you TikTok for ages now, how’d that start out for you?
It started in lockdown, I was bored. I started using sounds that were going viral and then I caught a little attention there. Although I’ve slowed down a little, TikTok has always been fun. I’m on it a lot of the day and do a bit of late night scrolling.
We know you and fellow Australian NBA star Dyson Daniels share a long friendship. Tell me a bit about the dynamic you guys share.
We used to live together when I was living in Australia at the NBA Academy. We played against each other all throughout our junior days. He’d be out in Bendigo and I’d be in Melbourne. I was 16-17 when I went to the NBA Academy, and then 6-8 months later he came up too. From then on we always had a really good relationship and we’d always be competitive on the floor. We played for like 18 months together at the Academy.
Fast forward 12-24 months later, and we’re playing on an NBA court against each other. It’s a very full circle moment—we went from battling at 10-years-old, to being really good friends throughout our childhood, and to now competing on an NBA court. During his pre-draft he was in a similar spot to me. He was picked 8th and I was picked 6th [the year before], so we were within the same range. I wanted to bring guidance to a guy I knew had so much talent. I was fortunate to go through that same process the year before—I knew what to expect and told him what to look out for but he handled it well.
To finish up, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt since being in the NBA? Either on or off the court.
The biggest lesson would be: you can’t get too high or too low. Both good games and bad games are going to happen, but there are 82 games in a season. You can play a bad game and in 24 hours you’ll play a great game. You can’t dwell on the bad ones or get too high on the good ones. The sooner you find a middle [ground], the smoother the season goes. I learnt quickly that you can’t put pressure on yourself. I used to stress about bad performances all the time. Especially with people watching and the media these days—people are so quick to critique players. I learnt that quickly in my rookie year and I’m carrying it into this second season.