Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey had to do a double take when the Australian player ratings for the latest NBA 2K game were released.
Not because he disagreed with his own rating. The 19-year-old’s breakout rookie season saw him go from a rating of 75 in last year’s game to 82 — just one behind Ben Simmons.
Rather, it was the rating of 72 for Boomers hero Patty Mills that had Giddey scratching his head.
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“I had to triple-check and make sure I was reading that correctly,” Giddey told foxsports.com.au on Thursday, speaking about the release of the new game.
“That’s 72 was a bit weird to me.”
Mills was lighting it up for the Nets at the start of last seasonbecoming the first player ever to start a season shooting a perfect 10 three-pointers from as many attempts.
While his hot streak tapered off as the season went on, the high upside is still there and makes the Australian a valuable addition on the bench in Brooklyn’s bid for the title.
“I think it’s well known he’s a good shooter but he’s an elite shooter,” Giddey said.
“If people see what he does, especially on the FIBA stage and at Olympics and World Cups, he’s arguably the best player at those tournaments and the things he does, the attention he draws, is unreal and he’s unselfish as well, makes the right play.
“I think his shooting ability is what he’s known for but people don’t understand how really good of a shooter he is and when he catches fire there’s not a lot of people that can do the things that he does on the floor.
“I’m sure he’s going to pop up as the season goes on. I’m sure the rest of the Aussies boys will move up as the season goes on as well.”
Dyson Daniels could rise up the rankings in his rookie season as the New Orleans Pelicans first-round draft pick looks to follow in Giddey’s footsteps.
But it is unrealistic to expect Daniels, who is set to feature off the bench for New Orleans, to immediately reach the same heights Giddey did in his first season with Oklahoma City.
Giddey was a record-breaking success and his rating rocketed accordingly, as did the quality of his avatar’s appearance in the game.
“Last year it was a bit questionable but this year it’s a bit better,” he said.
“I mean it’s hard with the long hair,” he added, laughing.
“There’s not many guys around the league that have as long as hair as I do. So I might give 2K a few difficulties but for the most part I’m happy with it.”
Giddey used to be like most kids around the world, playing NBA2K at home — and the 19-year-old was still doing that ahead of his rookie season last year.
“When it first came out last year I was playing with myself, on my team, the whole first week,” he said.
But Giddey is no longer like ‘most kids’ around the world, a reality which is still sinking in for the Australian who said it is “surreal” to see himself in one of his favorite video games.
Just as surreal for Giddey is the opportunity to play in the NBA against Australian idols he grew up watching, guys like Mills, Matthew Dellavedova and Joe Ingles, who took the Boomers to a historic bronze medal in Tokyo.
Now Giddey can be the face of the next generation of young Australian talent carrying the Boomers legacy, something the 19-year-old admitted is a “big ask” but one he is “excited” to take on.
“It’s cool to see those guys in the NBA doing what they’re doing and obviously guys I grew up – Patty Delly, Joe – those older guys that I’ve grown up watching for so many years,” Giddey said.
“To be in Boomers camp with them and then to play against them in the NBA is just surreal for me. As an Australian kid, you always look up to the older Australians that are playing in the NBA and at the highest level, so I was no different from them.
“Those guys are probably nearing the end of their international and NBA careers and for us younger guys coming through this, we’ve got to make sure there’s no drop-off and those guys have set the bar really high. To me those expectations are a big ask, but I’m sure myself and the other younger Aussies are up for that challenge and excited to do it.”