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Josh Giddey ready to tackle NBA offseason

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The best of Josh Giddey's rookie season (2:46)

Rewind the best plays from the Oklahoma City Thunder rookie's first few months in the NBA. (2:46)

Josh Giddey is healthy and ready for his first full offseason as an NBA player, after a nagging hip injury that brought his rookie season to a premature end.

Playing his last game on February 24, the hip complaint limited the 19-year-old to 54 appearances in his first regular season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"I started feeling it a little bit pre-All-Star break. I was playing through it, but it was nothing serious," Giddey recalled to ESPN.

"After the break it started coming on a little bit more. First game back I felt it, went to the physios and it was still hanging around more than usual. It wasn't getting better, we tried rehab. When we were going to ramp up there just wasn't enough time in the season, but I'm good now, fully healthy and ready for a full offseason."

At the time, Giddey was drawing significant Rookie of the Year buzz, though he's not losing any sleep over slipping out of contention among a stacked class of first year players.

"Once I got injured, I knew I probably didn't play enough games for it. It's not the be all and end all for me. You look at Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley who had elite years and didn't win, it just goes to show how deep this class is.

"There's going to be great players who miss out on All-Rookie first, All-Rookie second team, there's just going to be a lot of talented guys out of this group."

Stuffing the stat sheet on a nightly basis, Giddey quickly became a regular on NBA highlight reels, but has now sharpened his focus on refining the tools that can help him elevate to new levels as a sophomore.

"Weight room is a big part of it, getting stronger, more athletic. Shooting the ball is a big thing so a lot of reps. There are a lot of things I need to get better at but shooting and getting stronger are probably the main two."

Tipping the scales at approximately 100 kilograms, he admits the rigours of night-to-night NBA competition has given him an appreciation for the work he needs to put in while fast tracking the physical maturation of his 6'9" frame.

"It's not necessarily putting more weight on but getting stronger, being able to play in a lower stance, it's important. The NBA is so physical, there are so many big bodies, you have to be able to take contact, get hit and stay on balance."

Currently in Australia, Giddey is heading back to the US in early May and is expected to play a handful of games at Summer League with the Thunder in July.

Outside of official duties with the team, Giddey is eager to get back on the floor with Oklahoma City's young core, as the franchise looks to build on a 24-58 record in 2021-22.

"When we're playing pickup, I love that, getting to compete against them. We have a good group that gets after it, I think it's one of the advantages of having a young team. These young guys we play hard, we get after it, it's competitive so there's a lot of trash talk going on, guys want to win, it's definitely fun playing with those guys."

He smiles at the mention of playoff basketball, admitting that his perspective has changed significantly from 12 months ago when his NBA dream had not been officially realised.

"Last year I'm watching as a big fan, I'm watching my favourite players but now, I'm not going to say it's hard to watch but it does suck because you want to be there. As a player in the NBA, you want to be in the playoffs.

"Just looking at it, the crowd, how excited they are, the packed arenas, the intensity, that's something I want to be a part of. That's why next year it's such a big motivator to be a part of it."

While Oklahoma City are unquestionably at the beginning of a new era, Giddey isn't willing to put a cap on what the team can achieve in the near future, sourcing motivation from other young squads that made the leap this season.

"Those young groups like Memphis and Cleveland, Memphis especially, to do that was well above expectations. The group we've got, with our young core and the pieces we have, I think it can be a playoff team next year.

"We won 24 games, but I think if you look at it, there are so many close games, that with a bit more experience we close those ones out. I think next year, everyone is on the same page with where we are heading, and I think making the playoffs is really realistic for us."