Josh Giddey has made plenty of strides as a shooter recently for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Dallas rookie reserve guard Jaden Hardy still has some time to get to Giddey’s level, but he’s made significant strides lately for the Mavericks.
Giddey’s Thunder and Hardy’s Mavericks will face off Sunday night in Oklahoma City.
Giddey shot just 26.3 percent from beyond the arc as a rookie last season. Through his first 23 games this season, he was only marginally better, shooting 30.1 percent. But over the last 11 games, beginning with Oklahoma City’s Dec. 12 game in Dallas, Giddey is shooting 45.5 percent on 3-pointers and 53.3 percent overall.
He’s scored 20 or more points in five of the past seven games after reaching that mark just three times previously this season.
“It’s good to see improvements,” Giddey said. “But I’m still a long way from where I want to be.”
It’s not just behind the arc where Giddey has improved. He’s been stronger at getting to the rim recently, and he showed that off in Friday’s 127-110 win over the Washington Wizards, going 9 of 16 from the floor.
Wherever the shots are coming from, Giddey has shown a better shot selection of late.
“Knowing he’s gonna get those looks, it allows you to shoot through misses,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “He’s still gonna miss shots during this stretch. If you’re a 40 percent 3-point shooter, you’re still missing 60 percent of your shots, and you’ve gotta weather that. I think a predictable shot selection helps you with that.”
The Thunder have won two of their last three, averaging nearly 131 points per game.
The game is the last of three between the teams this season, and the lone matchup in Oklahoma City. The Thunder beat Dallas 117-111 in overtime on Oct. 29, with the Mavericks winning 121-114 on Dec. 12.
The teams’ two stars have come through in a major way in the previous meetings.
Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has scored 38 and 42 points in those games.
Dallas’ Luka Doncic is averaging 34.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 9.0 assists against the Thunder this season. Doncic is coming off a 34-point, 10-rebound, 10-assists triple-double in Saturday’s 127-117 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Mavericks have won eight of their last nine and four consecutive games on the road. Sunday is the first of a five-game road trip for Dallas.
Doncic is likely to miss the game, though. He’s been battling a sore ankle and was dealing with what he said were allergies Saturday.
In his first game since the release of Kemba Walker, which figures to open a significantly bigger role for him, Hardy was 7 of 9 from the floor, equaling his season high with 15 points against the Pelicans.
“He’s bigger than you think and faster than you think … and he’s not scared,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said of Hardy.
Hardy, a second-round draft pick, said his aggressiveness has helped of late.
“I’m not being really scared of anybody,” Hardy said. “It’s just hooping. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”
–Field Level Media