Welcome to "One Play!"
Debuted during the 2019-20 season, our NBA.com staff broke down certain possessions from certain games to peel back the curtains and reveal its bigger meaning.
In this instance, we'll break down film on the top prospects of the 2021 NBA Draft in comparison to current or former NBA players with similar skillsets.
Today, potential lottery pick and Australian guard Josh Giddey takes the spotlight in comparison to a former NBL Next Stars' graduate, LaMelo Ball.
Context: The comparison between potential Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball and 2021 NBA Draft prospect Josh Giddey is inevitable.
As two big guards that are both over 6-foot-6 with a keen sense of playmaking that makes everyone around them better, it would be negligent to ignore some of the similarities of their games. Add to it the fact that Ball used the NBL's Next Stars program as a springboard to success in the NBA while Giddey is currently on that same path, and the connection grows even stronger.
MORE: Giddey Scouting Report: Strengths, weaknesses, player comparisons
Giddey is amid the best stretch of his young career, recently posting back-to-back triple-doubles in NBL play. His first-career triple-double of 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against the New Zealand Breakers made the Adelaide 36ers' superstar the youngest player since Ball to drop a triple-double in an NBL game. When he did it for a second-consecutive game by dropping 15 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds on the Brisbane Bullets, he became the first Australian to achieve the feat in back-to-back games in NBL history.
His ability to stuff the stat sheet - not just as a passer, but also a scorer and rebounder - connects the dots with the former NBL star that was selected No. 3 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. Ball has seamlessly carried that success over to the NBA, which is playing a role in Giddey's current lottery projection.
But it's more than just their size and broader skillset that links the two teenage phenoms, their court vision and playmaking at this age is uncanny. See for yourself.
The play: Giddey utilizes his size to his advantage while displaying patience in the pick-and-roll to find an open teammate.
Giddey's defender fights over the high ball-screen but gets caught trailing the roll man, quickly upping his pace knowing that the savvy point guard can make him pay for being late to switch. He does a good job of recovering which prevents Giddey from making an easy pass for a bucket, but the 18-year-old very well could have still tried to force a play anyway.
If you saw that screenshot before you saw the actual play develop on video, you probably would have assumed that Adelaide had to pull things back out and reset the offence. The on-ball defender has his hands up to try and close off any passing lanes for Giddey, but at 6-foot-8, he can see and make plays that other smaller guards would never think of.
I mean, come on. The Cairns Taipans could not have defended this pick-and-roll any better, and because of Giddey's size and patience, he's able to thread the needle over the top of the outstretched hands of the on-ball defender for an easy basket. Poise and playmaking on full display there.
Now it's LaMelo's turn.
The play: Ball utilizes his size to his advantage while displaying patience in the pick-and-roll to find an open teammate.
In a similar play, Ball's defender fights over the top of the screen and gets caught trailing the roll man, but instead of hustling to recover, he tries to trap the young guard.
Maybe he was trying to cause some chaos and get the then-18-year-old to turn the ball over, but with a playmaker of Ball's calibre, he's going to make you pay for a poor decision like that. With little backside help and much more space to work with on the receiving end, this pass may not be as needle-threading as Giddey's, but it doesn't make it any less impressive.
If Ball wasn't all of 6-foot-6, he likely would not have been able to deliver this pass over the top of two bigger defenders the way he does.
With both opponents in his face, Ball gives one quick ball-fake to freeze the defender on the near-baseline before zipping a no-look pass to the rolling big man for a two-handed jam.
The summary: This isn't to say that Giddey is going to be the next Ball in the NBA or that their all-around playstyles truly replicate one another. It's simply to point out the fact that they do have similarities as plus-sized guards with very high basketball IQs, elite court vision and a crafty passing ability. Giddey could learn a lot from watching Ball's game and take a similar approach to success in the NBA.
Ball went from dropping triple-doubles in the NBL to standing on the doorstep of the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year award. What will be the next step for the Aussie sensation Giddey?
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