Home » OKC’s big Giddey playoffs call, Landale’s future in doubt and Dyson’s injury blow: Aussies in NBA

OKC’s big Giddey playoffs call, Landale’s future in doubt and Dyson’s injury blow: Aussies in NBA

The NBA trade deadline has passed and while no Australians are on the move, there were some key calls made by their respective teams that could have a flow-on effect.

From Josh Giddey’s post-season minutes at OKC to Jock Landale’s future in Houston and a crushing injury blow for Dyson Daniels — the latest edition of Australians in the NBA covers it all.
Plus, which Australian is enjoying a career-best run of form?

Watch an average of 9 NBA Regular Season games per week LIVE on ESPN, available via Kayo. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial Today >

JOSH GIDDEY (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Giddey opened up last week about how this season had been his most challenging in the NBA — and it is only going to get tougher for the Australian from this point.

With an eye towards the playoffs, the Thunder have a big call to make as to how they address Giddey’s glaring shortcomings as a shooter and on defence.

Giddey’s role as the primary playmaker was a relatively seamless fit in his first two seasons at Oklahoma City but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s rapid rise to superstardom and Jalen Williams’ growth has seen the ball taken out of the Australian’s hands more often in his third year.

Add in the emergence of Chet Holmgren in his rookie season and Giddey has quickly found himself relegated to the fourth option, if that, and it is not a role his game is built for.

For instance, the 21-year-old has gone from assisting on 43.0 and 38.1 per cent of OKC’s points in his first two seasons in the league to 29.9 per cent in the 2023-24 season.

In turn, it has seen Giddey become more of an off-ball option for the Thunder, something he isn’t suited for given his inconsistent outside shooting.

Giddey’s best game of the season, a 24-point effort against Toronto in double overtime, showed what he is capable of when hitting a few 3-pointers while also attacking the paint with more decisiveness and finishing through contact.

Now, the expectation isn’t that Giddey will be putting up 24 points or even double figures on a consistent basis.

It has been a tough run for Giddey. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

He just needs to improve his outside shooting to a respectable rate while his rebounding in particular is another area Giddey could really be of value to a Thunder team that has often been dominated on the glass this season.

At this rate though, Giddey’s strengths as a playmaker no longer marry up with the once prominent role he had in OKC’s offence and his minutes could only dwindle further as opposition defences target his weaknesses even more in the playoffs.

That is where the addition of former Hornets veteran Gordon Hayward could come in handy as he offers a similar skillset to Giddey with better shooting.

Hayward could either solidify himself as a starting option with Giddey running the second unit or, at minimum, may be a closing option with much-needed experience to help OKC in the post-season.

All of this is not to say Giddey is suddenly a bad player. He is still a very talented playmaker who is just being asked to do the one thing he has never been that good at.

GIDDEY’S SHOOTING THIS SEASON IN NUMBERS

In the paint

Field goals made: 58

FG attempted: 151

FG%: 38.4

Mid-range

Field goals made: 20

FG attempted: 38

FG%: 52.6

Left corner 3

Field goals made: 17

FG attempted: 41

FG%: 41.5

Right corner 3

Field goals made: 5

FG attempted: 21

FG%: 23.8

Corner 3

Field goals made: 22

FG attempted: 62

FG%: 35.5

Put him in a team of shooters that needs one primary facilitator to pass the ball around and Giddey would start looking like the record-breaking rookie that put the NBA on notice.

Giddey scored 11 points against Dallas last week, a number which looks solid on paper but isn’t that great considering he went 3-for-9 from deep despite being left wide-open by the Mavericks defence. s

The fact he continually took those shots that were given to him is a good thing in the sense that it shows his confidence isn’t wavering while passing open looks isn’t exactly what you want to be doing anyway.

Giddey just isn’t shooting efficiently enough at the moment to make teams play for that strategy, while his finishing at the rim lately has also been a point of concern.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault did not seem too worried post-game though, telling reporters the team had also tried a number of different tactics to combat the strategy which has been employed by a number of teams to neutralise OKC’s halfcourt offence.

“We’ve seen it all year, so it’s nothing new for us,” Daigneault said.

“We want to have a diversity of attacks against it, which includes the cutting and includes using him as a screener depending on who the five is. We thought that was effective today. “And then he’s got to shoot with confidence when he has the open shots. (The game plan) was effective today for a number of reasons outside of just him … we’ve attacked it well in the past, so we’ve got to keep learning from it and growing.”

Star teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who teams have been able to double more while leaving Giddey open, pointed towards the Australian’s big game against the Raptors as proof to not overreact too much to his recent struggles.

“He had some open looks,” Gilgeous Alexander said. “Missed some, made some. That’s the game of basketball. They go in, sometimes they don’t.

“Josh was left open against Toronto, (he) played his balls off.”

BEN SIMMONS (Brooklyn Nets)

After missing one game with a knee contusion after an awkward fall earlier this month, Simmons has been able to largely stay healthy for the Nets as he slowly works his way back from a lengthy layoff.

The 27-year-old is still on a minutes restriction and it is unclear when exactly that will be lifted but even in limited playing time Simmons is showing signs of growth.

Simmons was more aggressive as a scorer against San Antonio, setting the tone early even if it led to a turnover as he attacked the rim on a play with 8:30 left in the opening quarter.

Spotting Victor Wembanyama outside of the paint, Simmons instinctively drove towards the basket for the finish but was called for a travel.

While the result wasn’t there the process certainly was and the Australian was rewarded later in the second quarter as a cutting Simmons went right to the basket off a Mikal Bridges pass.

That was just the start of a season-high night for Simmons, who had 13 points, five assists, three steals, two blocks and three rebounds in the 123-103 win.

Ben Simmons is starting to look more comfortable. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

It was just a glimpse of the well-rounded player Simmons can be and it is not like he needs to be piling on the points anyway given this Nets roster isn’t short of outside shooting options.

You only have to look at Simmons’ scoreless game against the Sixers, where he did not attempt a single shot and yet was impactful on both ends of the floor in a 136-121 victory.

Simmons is finally starting to look like his old, confident self after missing a significant period of time at the start of the season due to a nerve impingement in his lower back.

Erik Slater, a reporter from Clutch Points and host of Bleav in Nets, had told foxsports.com.au ahead of this season that the summer surgery Simmons underwent — a microdiscectomy — was partly to blame for his lack of progress last year.

“There was a study done by the National Library of Medicine that broke down outcomes for NBA players who have had the surgery and basically what it found was that players in the first season post-surgery typically saw a decrease in player efficiency rating, minutes played and in other metrics but in the second post-operative season they typically returned to their average level of play,” he said at the time.

Of course, another injury has only delayed Simmons’ growth but the Australian told Brian Lewis of The New York Post after the Spurs game that he is “feeling better” now.

“It’s one of those things where it’s just up and down each day. But I’m just staying with it. The storm doesn’t last forever,” Simmons said.

“You know, I’m gonna get back to where I was. So just staying on it. And you know, each day is a day to get better.”

DYSON DANIELS (New Orleans Pelicans)

Unfortunately for Daniels, the Pelicans’ first-round pick is set for a stint on the sidelines after it was announced on Tuesday he had been diagnosed with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee.

New Orleans did not provide a timeline for his return to play, stating the team would evaluate treatment options for the Australian.

While Daniels’ offensive game remains a work in progress the Pelicans will miss his elite defence, which was continuing to see him earn consistent minutes as part of their rotation.

You only had to look at Daniels’ recent showing against the Los Angeles Clippers for proof of it as the young Bendigo product put on a defensive masterclass, recording four steals and two blocks.

The first came on Kawhi Leonard as the sneaky Australian picked his pocket, taking it straight to the rim to lay it home for the score.

Daniels then blocked a Russell Westbrook shot before recovering to force another miss from the Clippers point guard and getting the defensive rebound.

Dyson Daniels is now sidelined with injury. Harry How/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

A disruptive Daniels later stayed with and then blocked Norman Powell before active hands from the Australian saw him pick up another steal, this time on James Harden to spark a fast-break opportunity for New Orleans.

An anticipatory Daniels then pounced on a pass from Westbrook as he attempted to keep the ball in, taking it to the rim for the dunk.

Both Daniels and teammate Herb Jones were praised by coach Willie Green for their defensive impact in the statement win over the Western Conference heavyweights.

“Those guys were dominant defensively and that’s what they’re capable of doing,” Green said.

“Dys and Herb switching screens, physical, blocking shots, igniting our break. Two young perimeter players that can defensively pretty much guard anybody in the league in my opinion.”

“Dyson had four steals, that’s tough and two blocks — that’s six stops right there. That’s pretty impressive, I can’t lie,” added Trey Murphy III.

Daniels had 10 points in that win over the Clippers and also had a handy pair of 3-pointers to go with a block and steal in the Pelicans’ most recent 139-122 loss to the Lakers.

JOSH GREEN (Dallas Mavericks)

Consistency.

It has been hard to come by at times for Josh Green and for a number of reasons, be it injury-related or more a matter of drifting in and out of the starting team.

But Green has been enjoying the best statistical stretch of his career as of late, averaging 17.0 points while shooting 50.8 per cent from deep in his first five games to open February.

“It’s great that Josh is playing at a high level,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd told reporters ahead of Dallas’ game against Washington.

“Just understanding that he’s a young player, his career has just started. Again, the work he has put in this summer and with his national team, you can see he’s comfortable. I think the big part, not just with Josh, is our health.

“If we can stay healthy you’ll have a chance to become consistent with minutes and play. You’re going to make or miss shots but I think the big thing with Josh is if he can stay healthy, you can see that he’s getting better.

Josh Green is enjoying one of the best stretches of his career. (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“He’s young, he’s starting to feel more comfortable bringing the ball up, which we’ve asked him to do. He’s picking up full court, which we’ve asked him to do and I think he’s really enjoying his role right now.”

The improvement of Green’s outside shooting has been particularly important in helping space out Dallas’ offence, leaving Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving to handle the ball more and in turn create open looks for the Australian and his teammates as defences lock in on the superstar pair.

Green has proven himself particularly lethal shooting corner 3s, leading the NBA with 21 in his past 15 games while shooting a league-high 47.7 per cent from the area in that period.

And when Green isn’t shooting he is moving off the ball like he did against the Wizards, initially handing the ball off to Irving before cutting towards the basket for a ferocious dunk.

DANTE EXUM (Dallas Mavericks)

It has been a frustrating few months for Exum, who had forced his way into a starting role with the Mavericks after an impressive stretch only to have his momentum derailed by injury.

Exum, who battled injuries throughout his career before a stint in Europe, missed time in early January with a heel injury and has now been sidelined for eight straight games with a right knee issue.

Exum had a stellar December, averaging 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 53.3 per cent from downtown before being restricted to just 12 minutes due to injury in a 127-90 loss to the Jazz.

The Australian later returned after just over three weeks and lasted only two more games before again going down, this time with the knee injury.

Dante Exum is out injured. (Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

JOCK LANDALE (Houston Rockets)

It looks increasingly likely that Landale will be on the lookout for a new NBA team next year after the Rockets traded for Memphis Grizzlies big man Steven Adams.

Landale was already going to be battling for minutes behind Alperen Sengun when he first arrived at Houston but an ankle injury and concussion saw the Australian dealt an early setback as he struggled when on the court and fell further down the team’s big-man rotation.

The 28-year-old saw just seven minutes in Houston’s 111-90 loss to the Timberwolves and didn’t get on the court in the Rockets’ 132-129 defeat to the Pacers.

Now, having only been guaranteed one season of his four-year $32 million contract he signed with Houston in free agency last summer, Landale’s future at the franchise is in the air.

The Rockets didn’t get traded before Friday’s deadline and that makes sense given his $8 million, non-guaranteed contract could be used as a salary filler in an offseason trade.

Landale spoke to the Houston Chronicle earlier in the week about the possibility of being traded and said it was something he had learned to block out, putting all his focus into factors he can control.
The Australian also touched on his injury-interrupted start to the season, telling the Chronicle he came to the organisation on “half an ankle”.

Jock Landale had an injury-interrupted start to the season. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“My ankle was completely (messed up) when I first got here,” Landale said.

“I wasn’t in a good spot health-wise to go out and compete. My biggest asset is how hard I play and moving around the court and getting on the boards. My body couldn’t keep up with the level of play I was used to playing.

“Around game 20, we really figured out my rehab process, and I got to a point I was healthy and could be back to the Jock Landale the Houston Rockets had signed. That kind of created an identity at that point. It’s been tough to crack back into the rotation since then. I definitely feel I’m ready to go.”

JOE INGLES (Orlando Magic)

No change after the deadline for Ingles, who will be the same valuable veteran presence off the bench for the Magic as they continue to push for a playoff berth.

Orlando was tipped to be one of the more active teams at the deadline but didn’t make a single move to its roster, which in a way isn’t that surprising given the team needed to weigh up the benefits of any potential move with the threat it posed to the squad’s strong chemistry.

Ingles is clearly one of those players who has contributed to the positive vibes at the Magic this season if you go off Paolo Banchero’s recent comments on JJ Redick’s ‘The Old Man and the Three’ podcast.

Ingles may be the oldest player on the roster at 36 years old but he still knows how to relate to the squad’s young and emerging talent, including Banchero, who said the Australian “takes the cake” as one of the team’s most sarcastic personalities.

Banchero recalled the first time he ever met Ingles at Summer League, just after the Boomers veteran had signed with the Magic in free agency.

“He was talking s*** before we even put our shoes on,” Banchero said.

“It was just us two that showed up that day coincidentally… me and him were going to shoot together… so it was just him talking s***, how he was going to outshoot me. And I was like, ‘Okay, it’s gonna be this kind of workout’.”

Just one glimpse into how Ingles and this young Magic core have seemingly become a match made in heaven, with the Australian’s playmaking and decision-making proving a key asset to help run the second unit.

DUOP REATH (Portland Trail Blazers)

The Blazers are another team that didn’t do much at the deadline, acquiring backup forward Dalano Banton from the Boston Celtics for a protected second-round pick.

Otherwise, they are standing pat as they look to build towards the future with a mix of youth and experience.

Reath has been an underrated find for Portland this season, earning his NBA debut after Robert Williams III underwent season-ending knee surgery and later thrust into an even more prominent role after Deandre Ayton went down.

Even with Ayton now healthy Reath has maintained a solid role off the bench for the Blazers, proving an effective finisher at the rim which when combined with his threat as an outside shooter makes him a versatile scoring option in the frontcourt.

Duop Reath and fellow Australian Josh Giddey. Joshua Gateley/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Reath credited Portland’s coaching staff for simplifying his role in his rookie season.

“I think it’s just staying ready,” Reath said.

“Just keep on working and just being prepared but then again, the coaches have been helping me too letting me know what my role is and being very clear what they want from me. That makes it very easy.”

Reath missed Portland’s last game with a knee injury but the nature of it is unknown at this point.

MATISSE THYBULLE (Portland Trail Blazers)

Thybulle shaped as a potential trade target for a few contending teams, with the Milwaukee Bucks making a lot of sense given their need for a defensive stopper of his quality.

But no trade eventuated and there was no real reporting of note ahead of the deadline that seemed to suggest the Blazers were receiving calls about Thybulle, whose improved 3-point shooting this season has helped add to his repertoire.

Thybulle’s outside shooting has been a bit streaky lately but it hasn’t stopped him from regularly seeing more than 20 minutes on the floor for Portland, averaging 4.7 points and 1.3 steals while shooting 34.0 per cent from downtown last month.

PATTY MILLS (Atlanta Hawks)

After initially struggling to see any playing time in Atlanta Mills has started to get more minutes for the Hawks, averaging nine minutes in three games this month.

A potential Dejounte Murray trade could have opened up even more opportunities for Mills but instead Atlanta opted to keep him at the deadline, meaning the guard-heavy Hawks won’t have many more minutes to offer Mills at this point.

Mills has a $6.8 million expiring contract and could fit into any offseason deals for salary-matching purposes.